Thursday, January 04, 2001

Hamilton gives trees top priority

Board wants to build public support

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The tree advisory board is studying other cities as it tries to strengthen its tree ordinance and enhance Hamilton's chances of becoming a “Tree City USA.”

        “A tree board, a tree ordinance, a limited tree budget and celebrating Arbor Day are, in real bare bones, the standards for being a tree city,” said Gary Brienzo, spokesman for the National Arbor Day Foundation, which has granted Tree City USA status to more than 2,600 communities.

        Officials say Tree City USA recognition, which recognizes a community's commitment to its forestry program, helps create civic pride, boosts the image of communities and increases public support for trees.

        City Council passed a tree ordinance about a year ago establishing a tree board, which plans to submit an application for Tree City USA recognition by the end of the year.

        “We're working on a revision of that ordinance to enhance it to put some meat into Hamilton's tree management plan,” said advisory board member Eric Middlebrook.

        “We're looking at different ordinances from cities in the area and around the country to see what they have done.”

        The tree board is also considering taking digital pictures of the city's tree canopy to help determine where trees need to be planted.

        Addressing the city's aging tree population is a top priority for the board.

        “We need to make sure that our mature stock is cared for; and as senior trees die, we have plans for replacing them rather than reacting to their passing without any planning,” Mr. Middlebrook said.

        “We hope to help Hamilton understand how important trees are to the life of this city.”

        Mary Moore, utilities environmental administrator in Hamilton's operations department, said establishing standards for the care of trees and the type of trees that should be planted in the public right of way is important.

        “Anything that will encourage our residents to plant them — the right types, of course — and take care of them properly benefits the community,” she said.


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