- Parkway trees, trees within a designated landscape and often owned by the city, can be an asset to any municipality but also have the potential to be a liability if improperly managed. The many benefits of parkway trees include increasing property and retail value, providing natural shade and windbreaks that act to reduce household energy costs, preventing soil erosion, reducing urban noise, and enhancing the beauty of the parkway. However, parkway trees are highly susceptible to damage, insects, pests, and disease and careful long-term monitoring of their condition is necessary.
The Village of Mount Prospect, a northwest suburb of Chicago, Illinois has over 25,000 parkway trees. Yearly, the village inventories a subset of trees; the resulting data contribute to preparation of the annual budget and risk assessment report, and service requests. Each tree within the parkway is marked with a serial number at the time of planting, which is used for identification throughout the life of the tree. From June to September 2011, I inventoried 5,000 parkway trees from five sections within the village. I recorded each tree’s crown width and trunk diameter at breast height, and also recorded visual assessments of root structure, trunk stability, and potential presence of insects or disease. Each tree was given a numerical rating based on these observations and recommendations for treatment or removal were made accordingly. Information for each tree was collected in a tree inventory database, known as Hansen, and tree locations were noted in ArcPad GIS software.
Given the importance of parkway trees to municipalities, planting a diverse and healthy parkway tree population is critical to the success of urban forestry. Over the summer of 2011, the trees within the village experienced major losses due to several storms (including one confirmed tornado), and the presence of two stressors, emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma ulmi). These types of losses illustrate that parkway trees are susceptible to chronic problems from pests and diseases, and to acute and often catastrophic problems such as major storm events.
As it is costly and time consuming to remove trees, it is important for urban foresters managers to identify specific program goals to ensure the health and vitality of their urban trees. To do so, they need to make long term plans for creating and maintaining a diverse parkway tree population. Based on my experience this summer and coursework taken through the PSM program, my internship report presents a community plan that addresses: (1) the importance of a healthy and diverse parkway tree population and (2) methods and practices that would allow a community to effectively maintain a healthy and diverse parkway tree population through development of a community urban forest plan.