Taking stock of the city's trees

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April 28, 2014
By: Sarah McKenzie
File photo
Sarah McKenzie

Park Board crews will be planting 6,100 trees in the city this spring as part of an effort to replace trees lost to heavy storms last summer.

Another 1,700 trees will be planted this fall, said Park Board Forestry Director Ralph Sievert during an update on the city's tree canopy presented to a City Council committee this afternoon. 

The city has more than 1 million trees, including 50,000 in parks and 200,000 street trees, according to the annual tree report presented by Peggy Booth, co-chair of the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission. The trees provide tremendous environmental and economic benefits to the city, including nearly $25 million in energy savings annually.

The city's tree canopy covers about 30 percent of the city and is among the top 10 urban forests in the country, according to the annual report. 

The urban canopy, however, faces many threats, including the emerald ash borer, under watering and undersized tree pits that compromise root systems, Booth said.

The city's Tree Commission recommended the city support the Park Board's Ash Canopy Replacement Plan, which calls for the removal of 40,000 public ash trees over the next eight years and a replanting of 40,000 trees from a variety of species to increase the canopy's diversity.

The commission also encouraged the creation of a tree advocate that could provide guidance during project development review to protect trees during major construction projects. It also recommended stepped up watering of trees and increased funding for the City Trees Program, which provided more than 1,200 trees to residents last year through a partnership with the Tree Trust. 

(Below: A graphic of the city's tree canopy included in the annual tree report.)