City to Plant 200 Trees Over Next Few Weeks
City Forester Todd Ernster looks over more than 100 trees awaiting planting at the city’s rec building. Ernster said his department uses a wide variety of tree species to prevent any one disease from wiping out the city’s tree population. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
City Forester Todd Ernster spent the afternoon looking over the trees and shrubbery collected in the staging area behind the Rec Building on Thursday, musing as to whether the rain would ever stop long enough to mow the grass.
“We still have to take care of the football field and the track and field stuff, but for now we’ll spend some time planting trees,” Ernster said. “We’re hoping to get these all planted within the next two weeks. We work it in whenever we can.”
Ernster said the city has been regularly replacing ash trees in the city to help stave off the dreaded Emerald ash borer.
He said no one tree species is favored over another- a good variety will do a better job of protecting the city’s greenery as a whole.
“We try to fit the right tree for the right place, and planting a variety also helps if a certain insect or disease comes through, then we don’t lose 30 percent of our trees,” he said.
Tree are planted using a complex matrix Ernster himself created to ensure city codes are followed, also taking into account nearby power lines and tree species. He said city residents can request a tree planted on their property if certain requirements are met for no out- of- pocket expense: trees are paid for with city funds and sometimes, through organizations such as the Audubon Society. That’s a good thing- over 200 have been purchased for planting already this year, with at least another 100 scheduled for planting in the fall.
“We’ve got about 53 being planted along Ellis Street where the road was rebuilt last year, and there’s a parking lot by (the former) Dunham’s building with about 20 more going in there,” he said. “And I think Mid-State (Technical College) is putting in about 30.” Ernster also said several trees are planned for Amber Avenue.
Ernster said he’d help educate area students on the importance of tree variety and care during a scheduled Arbor Day tree planting at Forest Cemetery on Friday with a group of 4th graders from McKinley Elementary.