The goal of the City of Cleveland’s Urban Forestry Section is to provide a safe urban forest while striving to preserve its natural beauty. Their activities include the pruning of street trees, the removal of trees that are a risk to public safety and the planting of street trees (when funding is available).
In what Division within the City of Cleveland is the Urban Forestry Section (UF) housed?
Urban Forestry is housed within the City of Cleveland Public Works Division of Park Maintenance and Properties. In addition to the Urban Forestry Section, Parks, Vacant Lots, Greenhouse/Cultural Gardens and Cemeteries all fall under the Division of Park Maintenance and Properties.
What positions are in the Urban Forestry Section?
- The City Forester is Jennifer Kipp. Ms. Kipp is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture for over 14 years. She is also qualified through ISA’s Tree Risk Assessment Qualification.
- 4 Field Operations Foresters that are all ISA certified arborists.
- 21 support arborists that are non-ISA certified which form 2-3 person crews.
- 4 administrative support staff.
What is the annual budget for the Urban Forestry Section?
$2-$3 million/year - In October 2019, Mayor Frank Jackson pledged an additional $1 million a year for each of 10 years to restore the City of Cleveland’s tree canopy.
What type of in-house equipment does the Urban Forestry Section have?
- 2 log trucks – 2001 & 2007 model year
- 11 bucket trucks - 2006 average model year
- 6 pickup trucks
- 15 chippers (Bandit or Vermeer)
What are the Responsibilities of the Urban Forestry Section?
- 1 emergency crew of 2-3 members is deployed daily.
- The emergency crew’s responsibilities include addressing issues such as downed limbs, fallen trees, clearing stop signs/traffic lights, school zone signs, and large hanging limbs. Trees in close proximity to energized electrical wires are not pruned (see below).
- Crews focus on oak tree pruning from November to March – when there are no wire conflicts present. This timeframe reduces the spread of oak wilt. Other months of the year the crew prunes trees on streets resurfaced the year before.
- In 2019, Urban Forestry responded to 1,649 emergencies citywide – including storm work.
- 7-8 crews of 2-3 members are deployed daily for pruning. Collectively, these crews prune 425 trees per month.
- Arborists pruned 7,594 trees citywide in 2019.
- Trees are assessed by Field Operations Foresters. They determine whether or not a tree needs to be removed. Trees are generally removed when they are dead, dying, infested with Emerald Ash Borer, or have significant structural defects that increase the risk of failure.
- All tree removals are contracted out to an independent tree care company.
- Based on historical data, $1 million will be needed annually to remove trees based on a current mortality rate of 1.7%.
- Stump grinding and site restoration (regrading, backfilling and seeding) are both done by a contractor.
- For in house removals, Parks staff grinds stumps for Urban Forestry during their slower season – when mowing operations end.
- There is no site restoration, e.g. seeding and grading, for in house stump grinding.
- In 2019, 680 trees were planted to replace trees removed in 2017/2018.
- UF’s contractor is planting trees in 2020-2021 with the $1 million dollar commitment.
- Trees are planted in the spring and fall.
Tree Roots in Sewers and Water Pipes
- Property owners are responsible for annual maintenance of their sewer laterals (or the pipe that connects the sewer pipes in the house to the main sewer pipe usually located at the street). Because the pipes are buried and out of sight, property owners don’t usually detect a problem until it is too late. Urban Forestry does not remove a tree when roots have made their way into water or sewer pipes. To learn more about sewer and water pipes and trees, please see handout here.
- When UF receives a request from a property owner for a replacement tree due to issues with roots in pipes they are given a letter/handout. UF does not remove the tree as that will not solve the problem. UF will sometimes issue permits for the resident to remove at his/her expense.
Trees and Sidewalks
- Homeowners with time-sensitive needs for sidewalk repair, who are not part of the 50/50 Sidewalk Program or the Tree Damaged Sidewalk Program, can request assistance from Urban Forestry. However, first a sidewalk replacement permit must be obtained from the Bureau of Sidewalks at 216.664.7434.
- Once a permit is in hand, the homeowner may call Urban Forestry to schedule a tree and root assessment. In order for the Forester to assess the roots, damaged sidewalk panels must be removed. A Forester will complete the assessment within 48 hours of sidewalk panel removal.
- If a tree cannot be saved during construction, Urban Forestry will remove it. If roots need to be removed, that will be scheduled after the Ohio Utility Protection Service has marked the site to avoid contact with underground utilities.
- The responsibility for the removal of the damaged sidewalk as well as costs associated with the installation of new cement is the responsibility of the property owner.
City of Cleveland Policy on Bee/Wasp/Hornet Nests
- UF will remove wasp, hornet or bee nests from city-owned trees if they are found to pose a threat to public safety.
- Foresters will inspect for nest type and nest location. If the nest is lower than 9 feet on the tree, the forester will spray with insecticide.
- UF will make multiple visits for bald-faced hornets.
Overhead Electric Wires
- The majority of trees in the Cleveland urban forest are in contact with overhead, energized electrical lines. When trees are in contact with communication wires, such as cable or phone and/or service lines to a structure or building, UF arborists use insulated pruning tools (per Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards) to break contact, then proceed with pruning the entire tree – using non-insulated tools.
- UF foresters perform a visual health assessment of 10,000 trees each year on average. Inspections include: age assessment, e.g. young or mature, species, structure, pruning needs, etc.
Describe the City of Cleveland’s Urban Forest
The dominant species in the City of Cleveland’s Urban Forest is Maple (Acer) at 26%.
- Honey locust (Gleditsia) = 9%
- Oak (Quercus) = 6%
- Linden (Tilia) = 6%
- Sycamore/Plane tree (Platanus) = 6%
- Pear (Pyrus) = 5%
- UF does not plant pear trees or Norway maples. These two trees are the most common tree failures and are invasive or not native to this region. Learn more about invasive plants from the Ohio Invasive Plant Council.
- Our urban forest is getting younger. In the last decade, the City has lost thousands of mature ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer. Roughly 750 ash trees remain from nearly 7,000 in 2013. For more information on the Emerald Ash Borer visit the UF site here.
What is the process if a resident wants to plant a tree in the right of way?
- A resident may not plant a tree on the tree lawn or right of way. A resident may submit a permit for approval by the City Forester but must have a contractor plant it. A resident may find a contractor at treesaregood.org.
- The first step a resident should take to plant a tree in the right of way is to call or email Jennifer Kipp, the City Forester.