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Cornell documents every street-side tree

PENN YAN—Each and every street-side tree on the 21 miles within the village of Penn Yan now has both a name and a health report.
Public Works Superintendent Richard Osgood said he responded to information that was sent from Cornell University Horticulture department. The result is an inventory that was performed by a team known as the Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT).
A total of 1,689 trees were inventoried within village streets in just a few days this fall. Trees in Lakeview Cemetery were also part of the inventory. The trees weren’t just counted. Team members determined the variety, size and health of the trees. Not surprising, the greatest percentage of trees are in the maple family. Norway maples top the list with Sugar maples a distant second. Maples were one of the most common species planted years ago.
Many of the trees in the village are mature. The village has encouraged property owners to replace trees that are removed. This is often a problem because trees that were planted between the sidewalk and street have caused sidewalks to crack. As in many small villages, houses were built close to the street. This makes it difficult to plant trees between the sidewalk and the house.
Selection of tree varieties when old trees are replaced is important. The Norway maple, represented on every street in the village, is notorious for sending roots into sewer lines. This eventually creates even more problems than the cracking of sidewalks on the surface.
Coordinator of the Penn Yan project is Cornell Graduate student Fred Cowett. He provided some background on the program. The team was founded in 2002 and has conducted street tree inventories in smaller size communities since then. Cowett said any street tree inventory is a snapshot in time and so it is important to update tree inventory data on a regular basis. This would include recording new plantings and removals. He suggested another inventory in Penn Yan in the next five to 10 years. The Cornell SWAT program remains a resource to work with the village in planning and managing its current and future street tree resources. The trees throughout the village are a valuable resource. An estimate of more than $7 million was made by the team.
Osgood said the program was extremely reasonable for the village. The cost for the large team was approximately  $2,200 plus their lunch. Osgood said he hopes the village can come up with a policy on trees. Osgood would like to see a budget for selected species of trees that would be planted in the gateways to the village.




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