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Grant will help with inventory of trees
2009 grant helped create arborist training program
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Gainesville staff members are applying for a grant that will help continue efforts to assess trees around the downtown area.

The Urban & Community Forestry Grant would fund completion of phase two of a citywide tree inventory started in 2006 with Keep Hall Beautiful and the Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee.

"We'd like to continue our look at street trees that are impacting the public right-of-way and those that are in the midtown greenway as well as park spaces," said Jessica Tullar, Gainesville's special project manager. "This is an opportunity to build on the database of what we have and include what condition the trees are in."

City staff will use the $6,000 grant to develop a database of significant and historic trees, and Gainesville City Council members may consider a tree ordinance amendment to better balance development and trees in the community.

"There are sections of our code that are in conflict with the tree ordinance, such as height restrictions, and this might help us find places that need to be amended," Tullar said. "We may need a density credit and a way to incorporate stormwater retention as a part of that."

Under the previous grant, staff took an inventory of the trees along Green Street, the downtown square and the area around the Martha Hope Cabin to develop a tree management plan and assess the loss of tree canopy.

In 2009, the Georgia Forestry Commission gave a $7,400 matching grant to develop a local certified arborist training program.

The training program included a series of four five-hour classes organized by Technical Forestry Services Inc. to provide basic knowledge of tree biology, selection and establishment, tree care and maintenance, and urban forestry.

Several city employees completed the certified arborist examination administered through the International Society of Arboriculture and Southern Chapter of the ISA and can now help residents with questions about trees and tree care.

"We have the staff and resources in place to help encourage best planting practices," Tullar said. "Under this grant, we can know what's there and what we can do to better the city's practices."