Trees in the skyline

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The City of Clanton is poised to begin phase two of its Urban Forestry Management Plan, which is made possible by a $6,000 grant from the state.

During phase two, the city will take inventory of every tree on public property, including parks and city right-of-way. Tree inventory will be done using special computer software designed for that specific purpose.

“We will look at each tree in a public area — particularly in high traffic areas — and determine its condition, size, if maintenance is needed, and if it is the right species for the area,” Certified Arborist Leh Bass said.

Bass, a registered forester in Alabama and Georgia, assists cities like Clanton in starting an Urban Forestry Management Plan. The ultimate goal is to ensure the continued beautification of the community by educating citizens and enlisting the help of interested volunteers.

An “urban forest” is simply the amount of green space a city has.

“Your green space is one of the first and last things people notice in your community,” Bass told Clanton Planning Commission members yesterday. “And it says a lot about you.”

Bass said the optimum amount of tree canopy in a city is 40 percent. Tree canopy provides shade in the summer, and helps filter rain year round so that cities do not need as intense infrastructure for storm water drainage.

While trees are good for the environment, one primary goal of the program is to ensure that the right trees are in the right places.

“You want trees in your community, but you want healthy, vibrant trees,” he said, recalling the sight of a dead tree next to a swing set in Goose Pond Park, which could pose a danger to kids. Through the inventory program, trees that must be removed for safety and other reasons will be replaced by new, healthy trees.

“To me, safety is a primary concern,” Bass said.

The initial tree inventory will begin this year and will likely take longer than a year to fully complete.

The grant requires matching funds from the city.

—Scott Mims can be reached at