Harlem officials approved an ordinance Monday that puts the city's majestic trees in the spotlight.
The city council approved at Monday's monthly meeting the ordinance that allows for the creation of a city tree board. The board, which has not yet been formed, will be established to study and update an annual written plan for the care of trees and shrubs in parks, along streets and in other public areas.
The tree board and ordinance are two of the four requirements for the city to receive the Tree City USA designation established by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.
Councilman Tom Blalock, who also is a forester, said the ordinance is a good vehicle to protect trees on public property and to give guidance to city leaders during the ongoing downtown Streetscape project regarding the proper size, durability and appearance of trees to be installed during the project's final phases.
"Harlem has a wealth of old trees, but many of them are unsound," Blalock said. "First we want to replace those trees, those old southern oaks that are rotting and falling down."
Mayor Scott Dean said the city has seen tree problems lately with one tree coming down during a recent storm, two being cut down because they posed a risk to a resident's home and a fourth dropping a limb on a resident's vehicle.
"All of the pecan trees in town were planted at the same time," Dean said, "... They are starting to crack and starting to fall."
The Tree City USA designation would help provide education and financial assistance regarding tree care. It requires an ordinance, a tree board, an annual Arbor Day celebration and spending at least $2 per capita on trees. Once the tree board is established, the city can then apply for the designation.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.