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Wednesday, January 18, 2017



Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  29 degrees F the ferry dock, 27 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm . The sky is mostly clear, the humidity 84%.  The barometer is steady for now.  Temperatures should remain in the 30's to 40's range through the weekend, with increasing cloudiness and chances of rain showers, after which we may see a cooling trend and snow showers.
   A number of Bayfield residents are readers of The Almanac, so I think it appropriate to post the following Tree Board Report.  Additionally, it is good urban forestry information for the general reader.
JANUARY 17, 2017

The City of Bayfield traditionally makes an annual report to the Mayor and Council.  This will serve both as a summary report of current conditions and as a recommendation for future actions and policies.
   The citizen Tree Board is currently low on active members, and the Volunteer City Forester of some years is retiring from duty, so the present provides a good opportunity for change and revitalization. 
   The Tree Board has been hands-on, performing not only a policy and guidance function but assisting with planting trees and performing training pruning of young trees and similar activities. 
   Board members do not need to be technically trained but must be active, attend meetings regularly and be motivated by civic duty and a love of trees and the local environment. 
   The  Forester should have or be willing to acquire some basic technical forestry skills.  There are ample inexpensive opportunities provided by the Wisconsin DNR and the US Forest Service for training and networking for the Board and Forester, as well as interested city employees.
   The City of Bayfield street and park trees are in good shape from a health and diversity standpoint, and were last professionally evaluated in a report done by Bluestem Forestry in November, 2011, but a follow up professional report should be done soon.
   In general, the city has kept up with replacing, pruning and monitoring city owned trees removed due to disease, accident or age  (trees within 30’ of a standard street center-line) . Our tree population is diverse and beautiful.
   Our current tree planting policy counts on individual homeowners requesting either a shade or ornamental tree for the boulevard in front of their property.  Requests are routinely granted for spring planting, and trees are seldom planted where they interfere with views or are otherwise not wanted.
   The Tree Board and Forester monitor for insect, disease and safety problems (including Emerald Ash Borer) along with directions and requests from the City Public Works Director. 
   The Tree Board plants an Arbor Day Tree and conducts a ceremony and school program annually.  It also maintains a spot on the city web site.
   The Tree Board has been very successful in obtaining matching grants for tree inventories and planting, and it is considered a leader in this regard by WDNR and the US Forest Service.
   In addition to continuing the current activities of the Tree Board, which serve the city well, we recommend the city consider the following:
·     . Apply for matching grants for an updated Urban Forestry Plan and Tree Inventory. 
·      .Consider appointing a current or future city employee as Forester.  It does not have to be a full time position, but would require some extra compensation and training for an interested person.  Most cities, no matter how small, employ a city forester.  This would improve computerized record keeping and ongoing tree maintenance.  It would also ensure optimum coordination with contractors and nurseries.
·       .Bayfield needs to consider the entire city as its urban forest, including trees on private property.  Urban forestry is now seen as being akin in many ways to traditional forestry.  As unlikely as this may seem, it is the way the state and federal government now look at the urban forest, and that mindset will be the key to many major grant opportunities. 
   Bayfield has few publicly owned ash trees, but the ash population on private property is unknown, and a voluntary census would start the community thinking about a public-private urban forest.
·       . Grant funds for city forestry will increasingly be tied to partnerships with  other cities and communities, as well as with community nonprofit groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and The Bayfield Regional Conservancy.
Bayfield was lead agency for a major cooperative tree planting grant several years ago that included Bayfield, Red Cliff, Washburn and Ashland, and it can be so again. 
·       The city ravine conservancy areas function as originally intended but are an ongoing maintenance and public relations problem.  Citizens complain about their esthetic appearance and interference with prime lake views; conversely, they also present a major potential for grant funding. 
   The city should take full responsibility for these areas and seek grants and other funding for a full study that leads to updated ordinances and problem solving for these neglected resources.
·      .Thinking in the very broadest terms, it might be wise to investigate the establishment of a non-profit entity for the long range funding of the City of Bayfield Urban Forest.
   The City of Bayfield Tree Board has functioned well for many years and it has received many major grants and updated and modernized the city tree ordinances and inventory.  The city street and park tree population is diverse and healthy.  The Tree Board is now at a junction where its membership needs to be rejuvenated and the volunteer forester replaced.  It is hoped that both will be done well and quickly.
    It recommends that a city employee be designated, trained and compensated as the Forester. 
    It is time to think about city trees in broader terms than in the past.
    Properly staffed and led, the City of Bayfield Urban Forestry program should be on track to sustain itself through grant funding and other non-tax revenue.

Art Ode, Volunteer City Forester

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