Public tree programs are vital | News

Public tree programs are vital | News

Trees are a vital part of our city’s life and infrastructure.

Trees provide everyone with invaluable services from carbon sequestration and pollution mitigation to stormwater capture and energy-use reduction — and they complete these services cheaper and more efficiently than human designs. The City of Goshen has two important urban forestry programs to help care for some of these trees. Not everyone may be aware of these programs or how they work. The basics are laid out below.

Both of these programs are designed to address trees in the public right-of-way: typically, land adjacent to streets. The right-of-way varies from neighborhood to neighborhood across Goshen. Different municipalities fund right-of-way trees differently: some provide all the resources for these trees, from planting to maintenance to removal; some provide the work but send a bill to the property owner for the entirety of the costs. In Goshen, we split this difference, sharing the costs for right-of-way trees 50/50 with property owners, as a way to spread these costs equally.

The essential guideline for our 50/50 Planting Program is that the City will split the cost of planting a new, 1.5-inch diameter, 6-10 feet tall tree if planted in the right-of-way. The maximum property owner portion is $80, and includes planting. If the cost of purchase and planting a tree is less than $160 total – for instance $140 – the property owner will only be charged half of the total cost.

The City maintains a small tree nursery which is used to produce trees for planting in right-of ways, and on other public property. About 70 trees are transplanted from the nursery annually. Because our production costs aren’t commercial, we can pass along savings that help to keep costs for property-owners lower. We do have a limited number of these trees, and a somewhat limited list of species, so we may not be able to provide a city-grown tree for all requests. However, we are generally able to find most requests by working with commercial growers in the county, or in the wider region. And as long as we are planting 1.5-inch diameter trees, we will limit property owner costs to $80 for commercial grown trees.

Trees purchased through the 50/50 program are planted in the spring (usually April and May), and in the fall (usually November). Goshen Forestry staff are available to consult with property owners to help determine where the right-of-way is, and to help determine the best species of tree in order to plant the right tree in the right place.

The other important urban forestry program is our 50/50 Street Tree Maintenance Program. Similar to the 50/50 Planting Program, the basic guideline is that the City will split the cost of tree maintenance, including pruning, trimming and removal, for trees that are in the city’s right-of-way.

Tree maintenance is more expensive than planting, and there is no cap on the 50% portion which the property owner is responsible for in this program. The program is a very important service which the City offers as a way to keep these costs manageable and minimal.

Because the City does not operate a full line of tree maintenance equipment, this work is hired out to private contractors. When tree maintenance or removal is requested, Goshen Forestry staff will confirm with the property-owner the necessity and scope of the work. Three estimates for the work are then required from private contractors, and a preferred estimate agreed upon by the property owner and Forestry staff.

The property owner then pays the City 50% of the total cost, the work is scheduled, and the City pays the contractor the full invoice amount upon completion. Removal costs include stump grinding.

Both the 50/50 Planting and Tree Maintenance Programs are cornerstones of Goshen’s 45% Canopy Goal. While its tempting to think of planting as the more important part of achieving our canopy goal, maintenance really goes hand in hand with planting.

This is because good maintenance can preserve the health and safety of a tree over a longer period of time, extending the value and benefits of its canopy while younger trees grow in preparation to replace older ones when the time comes. And while its hard to lose large, mature trees when they age out, it is important to be proactive in order to protect public safety and to allow younger trees to fill in.

If you have questions about either of these programs, or about trees generally, please contact at Take advantage of these programs: not only are they good for your own property, but they’re good for the wider neighborhood, since tree benefits extend far beyond any boundary.

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2022-08-27 12:00:00