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City to remove 20 unsafe trees

Posted: October 7, 2010 10:20 p.m.
Updated: October 8, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Trevor Baratko/C-I

Liz Gilland, an urban forester for the city of Camden, gave a presentation Tuesday night recapping the city's tree inventory. She said over the next couple months the city will be removing 20 decaying trees that are hazards to public safety.

A small turnout Tuesday night didn’t stop Liz Gilland from addressing an issue on the minds of many around Camden: trees.

Gilland, the city of Camden’s recently hired urban forester, spoke during a public meeting about the potentially damaging effects of leaving decaying trees without attention. She said during the next couple of months, under her guidance, the city will be removing approximately 20 tree’s marked as potential liabilities for the city. Overall, 35 need to be taken down, but 20 are marked for the immediate future.

While 35 may seem like a lot, it’s a tiny fraction of the number of trees within the city that are considered hazards, Gilland explained.

A tree inventory conducted in 2008 found approximately 6,400 trees and 300 available planting spaces. Of the 6,400 trees, 4,447 were considered in “good” condition; 1,649 were “fair;” 135 “poor;” and 37 dead.

The upcoming tree removals will be funded through a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Camden is one of 44 municipalities in the state to receive such funding. On average, each municipality received approximately $18,500. Camden received $21,000. The city of Camden will pay to replace each tree that is removed.

“This funding is aimed at helping communities like ours improve public safety by removing structurally unsound trees while simultaneously establishing the next generation of trees,” Gilland said.

She said that in the two months since she joined the city, there have been two tree failures and six large branch failures.

“We are fortunate that no one has been hurt (and) no property damaged,” Gilland said. “This grant helps us to be proactive in removing unsafe trees.”

Trees in Camden that are to be removed are labeled with tape.

The top five families of trees in Camden are oak (35 percent), pine (13 percent), crape myrtle (9 percent), dogwood (6 percent) and sweetgum (5 percent).

Of the so-called “tree conflicts,” utilities pose by far the greatest threat, followed by sidewalks and vehicles.

The different types of failures that can occur in trees, Gilland explained, are soil failures, root failures, trunk failures and branch failures.

Gilland said all trees have a finite life span, but in heavily urbanized areas, trees rarely approach the maximum potential of longevity. The more stressful the growing environment, the shorter the average life-span, she said.

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