TTU's Airhart, City of Cookeville work to improve tree inventory and care
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Good city planning doesn’t just grow on trees, but keeping up with tree inventory and care helps everyone in the community.
Tennessee Tech University professor Douglas Airhart is working through a grant from the USDA Forest Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry to increase the total number of trees identified on Cookeville’s main roads.
The grant supports expanding the existing tree inventory in the city by minimum of 350 trees at sites that include Broad Street, Spring Street, Willow Avenue, Jackson Avenue, Lowe Avenue and Washington Avenue.
“The gist of the project is to evaluate new developments to check for compliance with the zoning ordinances for landscaping and parking lots and to check current status of trees from previous developments for continued compliance,” said Airhart.
As the budget allows, the City of Cookeville will implement recommendations in the Cookeville Tree Board’s management plan of planting, pruning, maintenance and removals. The planning commission is considering this as an addition for the new comprehensive plan for Cookeville.
“Our city has a landscape ordinance that requires the evaluation and maintenance of trees, but in these tough economic times, it is difficult to provide manpower toward this effort,” said James Mills, Cookeville city planner. “This grant benefits the city because it provides services and manpower that don’t require taxpayer dollars. This assistance is appreciated.”
Because trees often add color, absorb excess noise, filter the air, provide shade, and may increase property values, it’s become increasingly important for city property owners to learn more about tree care.
Through the grant, Airhart and the Cookeville Tree Board will develop an educational brochure about tree care that will be distributed through utility billing. There’s also an educational component for training city planning, codes, and plans personnel and other staff.