Tree expert passes on knowledge to citizens

Published 9:04 pm Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trees are so common in the city of Clanton that it’s easy to take them for granted. But a growing group of citizens will be paying a lot of attention to trees in the coming weeks and months.

Members of the city’s tree and beautification board, along with Master Gardeners and other interested individuals, have begun evaluating trees on city property as part of Clanton’s urban forestry management program.

The volunteers met with certified arborist Leh Bass at Clanton City Park Thursday to learn the methods of evaluating a tree.

“It’s going to be a community-run operation. I’m going to be mentoring them,” Bass said.

Educating the public is a primary goal of the program, which seeks to create an inventory of every tree on city right-of-way. Volunteers will look for things such as dead limbs that may need removing, low limbs that could pose safety hazards, roots causing rifts in pavement, and disease.

The city is especially focusing on trees around power lines, utility lines and public parks.

“We’re not going to be going on private land,” Bass said, asking citizens not to be alarmed if they see people measuring or looking at trees.

After each evaluation, the volunteer will determine whether the tree in question needs to be removed and replaced with a different species. Historic trees will be identified as well.

Thursday, Bass gave the volunteers a hands-on demonstration of species identification and trunk measurement.

“This is going to help educate all of us to know which trees to plant in what location,” tree board member Ann Baker said.

Also assisting with the program are Alabama Forestry Commission Chilton County Manager Brian Smith and Home Host Regional Extension Agent Taylor Hatchett.

Then there are those like Rick Miller, who just completed the Master Gardeners program and simply volunteered to help.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience,” Miller said.