Milton steps up program to plant, protect trees

Published on March 21, 2013 with No Comments

Milton has always been proud of its trees, one reason it has been a Tree City USA community for the past 18 years. Maybe it’s the area’s long history with farming and timber and its appreciation of nature.

But the effort has been increasing in recent years as experts have so far surveyed 75 percent of the 3,500-plus trees on public property.

The surveys, funded by state grants, give city workers a detailed rundown on which trees are dead or dying, which need help, and which are doing well. The surveys also suggest trees to plant in place of those that must be removed.

It’s a valuable mission because trees provide numerous environmental and social purposes – and they add 10 to 20 percent to property values, according to the U.S. Forest Service. They also increase an area’s appearance, a benefit for residents and an incentive for businesses to move to Milton.

“The tree inventory helps us manage our tree canopy and strengthen our trees, which help prevent storm water runoff and moderate the climate,” said City Manager Brian Watkins.

It’s a detailed undertaking, with a report showing that Milton has more than 60 species of trees – ranging from common types like pecan, oak, cypress and red maple to the occasional glossy privet, tulip tree or other tree not often seen here.

The Street Tree Master Plan, as it’s known, covers trees on all public property, from parks to rights-of-way, and suggests ways to manage them.

The benefits are many. Here are just a few:
• Strategically planted trees reduce energy use by shading buildings in summer and block cold winds in winter.
• Trees provide the settings for festivals and other gatherings that bring millions of dollars to the local economy.
• They offer a sense of place and improve the quality of life, calm traffic and provide settings that encourage people to walk.
• Trees absorb gaseous pollutants and act as sponges to capture rainwater that otherwise may gather dirt and flow into rivers and other bodies of water.

Variety important
City workers use the recommendations for maintaining current trees and planting new trees. The guidelines, which identify public property where Milton can plant more trees, include a recommendation that a wide selection of trees be planted.

That’s for safety as well as appearance. If a stand of trees is comprised of only one species, it’s more vulnerable to disease and insect infestation than a stand that has a variety of species.

Look for more trees in Milton as the city continues to step up its program, planting, pruning and bringing more green to town.

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