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Grant funds help city branch out to protect trees

Trees are an important community asset, but the city admits it knows little about them.

That's why a recently announced $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was welcome news.

According to Bob Barbian, director of planning and economic development, work will soon begin on an inventory of the city's trees.

The city has contracted with StrataPoint from Rosemount, Minn. to use global positioning technology to show where all its trees are located.

The inventory process will not only identify a tree's species, but its exact location, size and current health.

The inventory crews will be completing their visual scan of the city over the next 30 days or so.

All trees in city parks, on city-owned land and on public right-of-ways will be included in the inventory.

"It will tell us what we have right now and how we should be managing it," Barbian said.

By knowing specific tree species and where they are located, Barbian said the city can work hard to stop the spread of diseases such as dutch elm or oak wilt.

After the inventory is complete, the grant will allow the city to develop a forestry plan that establishes goals and objectives for the future of the community's trees.

"What should we be doing so that, 20 years from now, there is a good environment for our kids?" Barbian asked as he explained the purpose of the plan.

Part of the forestry plan includes trees that will be planted along New Richmond's new commercial corridor -- Richmond Way. The city expects to plant upwards of 100 trees along the street to create a old fashioned, tree-lined boulevard.

The final component of the grant is funding for 50 hours of training for city employees on the proper techniques used for trimming trees and related safety issues.

"Then they'll know how to do it correctly," Barbian explained.

St. Croix Tree Service in Warren Township is providing the specialized training for employees in the parks, utilities and street departments.

Mayor David Schnitzler said he's pleased the city received the state funds and can begin working on a forestry plan.

"You've got to start somewhere," he said. "We need to protect the trees we have here, and it will help make us aware of what's going on out there."

The grant programs will help the city adhere to its motto, "The city beautiful," Schnitzler added.