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Lafayette tree inventory

Steve Leer
Purdue University

The four year process of taking an inventory of trees in Lafayette’s right-of-ways is complete. The survey does not include trees on private property.

Davey Tree Group began looking at trees along city streets, except for major state and county roads, in 2010. Project Manager Aren Flint says there are nearly 21,000 spots for trees, and a little more than half already have one growing there. The survey shows the top five species are Silver Maples, Red Maples, Sugar Maples, Callery Pears and Crab Apples.

“Now that you have an inventory, what I suggest the city might do is do a tree management plan,” Flint says. “This would help you develop your goals, help you develop your policies, and set you on a course for a sustainable forest.”

She says a management plan should first address trees in critical need of removal or pruning. The inventory has identified roughly 1,200 in those categories.

When it comes to a pruning cycle, Flint says experts recommend every seven years for mature trees and three years for those still growing.

“Those are young trees. Those are more vigorous trees. They’re wanting to grow, get established. They just need more time in them,” she says. “The reason we like to prune those is to promote good structure and get them into the “good” condition, as best as we can.”

The inventory also shows that for every dollar Lafayette spends on trees in its right-of-way, the city realizes $2.30 in benefits. Those include reducing storm water runoff, energy savings and improved air quality.

Nearly 450 trees should be removed from the right-of-way soon, according to the inventory. Those are classified as being severe or high risk trees.

Lafayette Urban Forestry Manager Belinda Kiger says so far this year, the city has removed 116. Approximately 43% of those were ash trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer.

“The ash trees, last year, weren’t too bad,” she says. “This year, they’re getting much worse, so we’re having to really pay attention to the ash trees.”

Kiger says the city is treating some of its ash varieties, especially at Riehle Plaza. She’s working with Tree Lafayette in trying to replace trees that are removed.

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