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Shade tree commission holds special meeting

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Shade tree commission holds special meeting

MARTINSBURG – Martinsburg city officials and the municipality’s shade tree commission held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss funds obtained through a Chesapeake Bay Community grant to increase the city’s urban tree canopy percentage.

The city obtained the grant, which will continue through 2013, to increase the city’s overall tree cover and to plant trees in order to meet new stormwater runoff requirements imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of its Chesapeake Bay restoration initiative.

“The bottom line why are we planting trees, why are we increasing tree canopy, is that it really comes down to the Chesapeake Bay and even local water quality. That benefits us locally and it benefits everybody downstream from us,” Herb Peddicord, West Virginia Division of Forestry’s Chesapeake Bay watershed forester, said.

Article Photos


Journal photo by Edward Marshall

Urban Forestry Coordinator Tanner Haid gives a presentation Wednesday to members of Martinsburg’s shade tree commission during a meeting on a grant obtained by the city to plant more trees.

The EPA mandated strict limitations on pollution getting into the bay via its tributaries like the Potomac River. Trees help reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that eventually makes it into the bay.

The city has received about $12,000 in grant money so far. About $4,100 is being spent to have the Cacapon Institute develop an urban tree canopy plan and assessment. The remaining grant money will be spent on planting trees and completing a tree streets inventory. Currently, it’s estimated that the city’s tree canopy percentage is about 33 percent, but the inventory will allow for much more accurate figures and planning. Generally, 40 percent is considered to be ideal for urban areas.

“Forty percent is probably the cutoff for an urban area. I think for a community like this, 40 percent would be a lofty goal. That is something you guys are going to have to decide,” Peddicord said.

Current plans are to establish a goal to increase the city’s current tree canopy percentage over the next 20 to 30 years to bring it more in line with recommended figures.

Tuesday’s meeting included a presentation from Tanner Haid, Urban Forestry Coordinator with the Cacapon Institute. Urban forests are considered trees that are planted in public areas like parks, schools and neighborhoods that provide economic, environmental and social benefits such as reducing stormwater runoff and improving air quality.

“Urban in the terms of urban forestry just refers to the public areas in our towns, in our cities and our suburbs. They’re public areas and tree canopy is the layer of leaves and branches that cover the ground,” Haid said.

The USDA Forest Service Planing Priority Index ranks every county in the U.S. from a score ranging from zero to 100 percent based on the need for increased urban tree canopy and assessment. The higher the percentage, the greater the need is for assessing and increasing a county’s urban tree canopy. Berkeley County has a score of 87.5 percent, making it one of the counties in the Chesapeake Bay region with the greatest need for assessment and an increased urban tree canopy percentage.

Part of what the Cacapon Institute is tasked with doing with the grant funds is helping the city develop a plan to increase its urban tree canopy percentage and to do a tree streets inventory.

“It’s an inventory of street trees in Martinsburg. Martinsburg has a lot of street trees. Since the Cacapon Institute will be doing that study, instead of a complete inventory that takes about a year or two to finish, we are going to do a random sampling,” Haid said.

The assessment will include a 10 percent random sampling of all streets in Martinsburg. The Cacapon Institute will also help the city with identifying sites for trees to be planted.

“The goals are just increasing the urban tree canopy percentage. That is basically it,” Peddicord said. “The best way to do it is to plant trees. Obviously, the trees you have are going to get bigger, but the best way to increase percentage is to actually plant trees.”

– Staff writer Edward Marshall can be reached at emarshall.


Written by vaphc

August 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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