‘Health of the community forest’

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How many trees planted, removed each year fluctuates based on many factors



Albert Lea Parks Department employees planted approximately 200 trees last year throughout the community.

The city also removed 1,000 trees due to a multitude of reasons.

Albert Lea Parks Superintendent Joe Grossman said the city planted a variety of trees, such as sugar maples, Freeman maples, hackberry, Ohio buckeye, Kentucky coffeetree, varieties of disease-resistant elms, burr oak, swamp white oak, crabapple, ginko and London plane, among others.

The trees were planted in city parks and boulevards.

He said the city removed about eight trees from Katherine Island over the last 10 years. The last three were ash trees and were removed this winter.

Grossman said one of the reasons the trees were removed was because of the onslaught of emerald ash borer in neighboring counties. The invasive species is considered highly destructive to ash trees.

“It’s going to be a problem,” he said.

Grossman said there are other reasons the trees were removed.

“The trees (have) generally been declining for a number of years due to age, maybe some insect damage, flooding,” he said.

Other reasons the city removes trees are disease, tree death, decay, danger to the community and rotting.

Grossman said recent floods have caused Katherine Island to fall underwater, further damaging trees.

“There’s a lot of dead wood in the trees, so they were shedding branches that were greater than 2 inches,” he said. “When they’re 50 feet in the air or 60 feet in the air and they drop, that’s not a very safe environment for the public to be on that island, so that’s why they were removed.”

The number of trees planted and removed has fluctuated since 2013.

In 2013, the city planted 200 trees and removed 1,200. In 2014, the number of planted trees decreased to 175 while the number of trees removed decreased to 300. In 2015, 188 trees were planted and 146 were removed, and there were 300 trees planted in 2016, while 500 were removed.

Grossman said abnormally large amounts of tree removal can occur when the trees are in a construction spot. In 2017, trees had to be removed at the Albert Lea Airport to prevent them from interfering with the flightpath of airplanes.

The city removed five large trees earlier this spring along Margaretha Avenue with assistance from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services because of their close proximity to a power line.

Grossman said in anticipation of the need to remove the trees, the city started planting trees in-between the old trees and the power line about seven years ago.

The city is next expecting to remove trees around Lakeview Park and has planted trees in the area during the last five to 10 years in anticipation of the need.

Grossman said the city has “lots of room to grow,” to have a thriving tree population, adding the trees that need to be added are primarily trees in boulevards on private property. He suggested having a certified arborist evaluate trees on private property.

Grossman, an arborist who has a background in natural resource management, said the city removes trees for the greater community good.

“We’re tree lovers,” he said. “We don’t want to take them down, but you also have to think about the long-term health of the community forest — the whole thing, and not just one narrow spot.”

Grossman said the city plants a diverse mix of trees but has not planted ash trees in the 21 years he has worked.

The main trees in the community are silver maples, green ashes and hackleberry.

Grossman said the city does not want to remove trees unless it is necessary.

“If there isn’t something like that involved or some kind of construction project where the tree has to be removed, then we try to avoid it and talk people out of it,” he said.

“We’re tree nuts. We love trees, but we have to be realistic, too.”

Albert Lea was named a 2017 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation earlier this month in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Albert Lea Parks Department tree removals

2013: 1,200

2014: 300

2015: 146

2016: 300

2017: 1,000

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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