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Claremont continues to fine-tune tree care policies

The Claremont City Council held a special meeting and workshop Monday, June 2 at City Council Chambers to discuss the proposed revisions to the city’s Tree Policies and Guidelines Manual. Much like the previous workshops hosted by city staff, residents voiced their concerns about several of the proposed changes.

To the delight of the Tree Action Group (TAG), their voices are being heard.

“We’ve raised our questions and asked council to re-examine the use of poisons and the pruning policy for our city’s urban landscape,” says Mark von Wodtke with TAG. “The city council has heard us and agreed it’s worth looking into. The proposed updated Tree Policy was sent back to city staff to further address these issues.”

As the COURIER reported in May 2014, the city adopted the Tree Policies and Guidelines Manual in 1997. The 81-page manual serves as a defining set of rules for proper maintenance and enhancement of the city’s urban forest of more than 20,000 trees.

Although last revised in 2011, city staff recognized the need to update the current manual and, in June 2013, suggested soliciting public input in doing just that. Claremont’s Tree Committee as well as the Community and Human Services Commission were in agreement and so began the lengthy revision process.

Despite the council’s decision to send the revisions back to city staff, they did support and approve the appropriation of $12,500 to retain the Inland Urban Forest Group to update and expand the Designated Street Tree List recommended by city staff.

More drought tolerant species are on expected to be on the list, an addition that should help with the ongoing concern the drought is having on our leaf-scape and the lack of watering methods available.

“Mayor Lyons is going to provide some leadership to get the city trees some relief but the problem is Claremont is so complacent. We’re really living on our laurels and we need to recognize the urgency of this matter, “ according to Mr. von Wodtke. “We shouldn’t be behind the curve on this, we should be in front of it!”

One brilliant suggestion is the use of infrared imagery on the city’s urban forest to determine which trees are stressed. Unfortunately, the Claremont doesn’t have the capability to implement this at the present, but with a title like “City of Trees,” perhaps it’s something to seriously take under consideration.

“We need GIS software that handles that kind of imagery. If the city had an Urban Forester in house, it would be much more cost effective than sending it out to a contracted servicer.”

The good news is the city council has made trees and Claremont’s urban forest a priority. The bad news is the city is not replacing trees at the rate Claremont is losing them and with little relief from the drought in sight, watering methods will continue to be an issue.

“I hope they are going to set up some mobile water capabilities to address it,” says Mr. von Wodtke. “The city has all sorts of disaster preparedness which is great, but not for the disaster that is happening to our trees right now.”

The city council is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, June 10.

—Angela Bailey


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