Friday, October 24, 2014

Hailey tree values at $3M and counting

Permit required to maintain trees on city property

Express Staff Writer

    The Hailey Tree Committee has been collecting data for several years on the number and quality of trees on city property. The city surveys about 500 trees each year, beside streets in city rights of way and in city parks.
    Hailey Tree Committee member and Ketchum Parks Superintendent Juerg Stauffacher reported to the City Council on Monday that the value of trees in Old Hailey and in city parks is $3 million, based on the their replacement cost.
    “Compared to other cities in the valley, Hailey has older and larger trees,” said City Administrator Heather Dawson in an interview. “We have not even begun to count trees in the outlying subdivisions.”
    The ongoing tree survey was begun to place a monetary value on the city’s urban forest and prioritize tree maintenance, planting and removal projects to protect the city’s arboreal assets.
    The survey is being facilitated by the city of Ketchum, which provides computer software to help keep up with the changing priorities of the Hailey Tree Committee. Both cities use TreeWorks software and advice from Community Forestry Consultants of Spokane, Wash.
    The stated vision of the tree committee for Hailey’s community forest includes a diverse species population with no one species comprising more than 15 percent of the population. The committee also plans to increase the number of species appropriate for the region, in a good mix of age and class sizes, including low-maintenance trees to reduce operating costs.
    “The trees that make up the urban forest will be predominantly medium-sized trees, and be strong-wooded,” states the committee’s vision.
    “We have a lot a lot of large, weak-wooded trees in the city, including fast-growing cottonwoods,” said committee member Carl Hjelm. “Nature makes a trade. If you are fast-growing, you are weak-wooded. Cottonwoods are appropriate in some locations, like for streamside restoration, but not so appropriate close to structures or in high-traffic areas where they could create a hazard.”
    Hjelm said the Tree Committee has listed maple, ash, oak and linden trees, which are slower-growing and more disease-resistant, for planting in more urbanized locations within the city.
    According to the Hailey Tree Ordinance, adopted in 2008, anyone wishing to trim or remove a tree on city property must first acquire an encroachment permit to do so.
    The ordinance also prohibits removal of living trees from city property, unless they are a hazard, and only then with permission from city officials.
    “The city would have to be involved in any tree alterations,” said Dawson. “This is to make sure proper trimming procedures are taking place. Improper trimming includes topping off the tree, which will ruin it.”
    Dawson said the city is working on a policy to prioritize work on specific trees on city property.
    “If there is a tree hazard, people should contact the city,” Dawson said.

In other Hailey news:

  • Businesswoman Jane Drussell, owner of Jane’s Artifacts, has petitioned the City Council to create a one-way alley between Main Street and Alturas Plaza, due to what she described as dangerous traffic patterns resulting from numerous businesses in the area.
  • The City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting wood shingle roofs in Hailey. Any roof alterations on 50 percent or more of a roof would trigger the new prohibition and force the use of different materials.
  • The City Council tabled discussion of a $5,000 contribution to a Climate Adaptation Plan until further notice.

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