By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma City Council recently approved an in-kind gift to support a comprehensive tree inventory for the Parks & Recreation Department. The Oklahoma City Community Foundation ($95,000) and Oklahoma Department of Forestry Services ($25,800) are funding the project.
The inventory will provide a detailed analysis of the types of trees and their conditions in City parks, trails and medians. It will allow park planners and horticulture workers to better evaluate the health of park trees and create a replacement plan for trees as the need arises.
“This is the first time in our department’s modern history that we’ll be able to create a full inventory of our park trees, and the benefits are endless,” said Douglas Kupper, Parks & Recreation director.
“This will not only aid our grounds and forestry crews with ongoing tree maintenance and assessing the health of our trees, but will provide park horticulturalists and planners with the tools they need to develop a succession plan to ensure the continuity of our parks’ urban forest for many years to come.
“Trees are a vital part of any parks system, and we’re grateful for the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Forestry for their support with this critical project,” Kupper added.
The gifts will support the city’s partnership with Davey Resource Group, an established urban and community forestry consulting group. The inventory is expected to begin in May. It is expected some 20,000 trees will be inventoried in Oklahoma City.
The project will provide a detailed analysis of the trees including frequency of species, condition, range of canopy cover, value of carbon dioxide sequestered to date and replacement costs of the trees.
The inventory will also help identify those public parks that are lacking tree canopy cover. The project should be completed in early fall 2016.
“We are pleased to join with the state’s forestry division to support this important project that will help the Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation Department make informed decisions regarding the current and future needs of public parks,” said Nancy B. Anthony, president.
“Our organization has a long history of supporting beautification efforts within Oklahoma City through the planting and maintenance of trees in public spaces.”
The project will also include a public access that will allow anyone to learn more about the value of trees within the urban forest, tying each tree to a tree benefits calculation. This will also provide opportunities for the public to learn about tree species that work best in central Oklahoma.
The gift from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is being made through the Parks & Public Space Initiative. The OKC Community Foundation has supported projects to beautify public lands in Oklahoma City since 1991.
Mark your calendars for Friday, April 8, when the OKC Parks & Recreation Department will celebrate National Arbor Month with a Community Tree Planting at Will Rogers Gardens, 36th Street and N. Portland.
Naturalists will demonstrate proper pruning and how to successfully site, plant, and water a new tree. The event is free and open to the public and groups are welcome.
For more information, call the OKC Parks & Recreation Department at 405-297-3882 or the OKC Community Foundation at 405-235-5603.