The Power of Community in Urban Tree Health
Revisiting W 50th St Cleveland OH
In the Spring of 2010, I received an urgent call from a homeowner living in Cleveland, and it came while I was attending the TCIA Expo. They were asking for help because the ash trees on their street were in imminent danger of being removed by the city – and they were healthy! The city had made it clear that they were not going to save any ash, that their strategy was to remove and eventually replace. But how do you replace 60-year-old, majestic, and soaring ash trees?
These healthy, mature ash, forming a canopy over the entire block, some 38 trees with an average diameter of around 30”. The very next block (see below) had almost no trees at all, and the comparison was dramatic. The houses on this street were all turn of the century homes, and this neighborhood group was desperate to use the Arborjet injection treatment solution to save their trees.
After considerable political discourse, the city granted Arborjet permission to treat these trees, which we did as a community service, at no cost, for a decade. Since these were large trees, we also used this site to validate our ability to exceed two years between treatments in a city environment. We partnered with a national tree company to complete the hands-on work.
While I have reported on this site in the past, there were several notable points and lessons learned. The street’s inhabitants worked with local city councilors to implore the city to save their neighborhood. They were able to reach out and find a strong partner in Arborjet, who saw the immense importance of these trees to the stability of this block. The city agreed not to hinder us, and the local media visited and reported on our progress in those early years, which dramatically increased public awareness of this tree killing pest, Emerald Ash Borer.
Just two years ago, the city agreed to take over treatment cost for these trees, and they are now protected under contract with a local tree company. We also demonstrated that trees in an urban setting, of substantial size, are not only of increased community value, but have considerable ongoing serviceable value as street trees. These large, mature ashes increase the value of their homes, reduce noise and air pollutants, and make the street a livable community for its citizens.
Today, just as when we first arrived on the scene to offer our support, a decade ago, these trees stand as a monument to what can be done when Arborists and citizens work together, believe in the value of trees, and standup to do the right thing. We dedicated ourselves to this mission without concern for cost, because nothing could replace these 38, sixty-year-old trees for beauty, shade, and importance to the community.
If you know of other trees or stands of trees that are in desperate need of being saved, please reach out to Arborjet directly, and tell us.
Director of Urban Forestry