Portland teams with U.S. Forest Service for tree study

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PORTLAND — How many trees are there in the Forest City?

Officials are looking to get a better idea of the population and health of the city’s trees as part of a five-year analysis with the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is a good project for Portland to better understand our overall vegetation makeup,” city Arborist Jeff Tarling said in a July 11 email. “Conducting the random plots helps gauge the level of vegetation to help us better understand the vegetated makeup of Portland.”

This week, Tarling and his staff began counting in small sections of city-owned land as part of the Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis. Portland is one of three regional cities taking part, along with Burlington, Vermont, and Providence, Rhode Island.

As outlined in a press release from Forest Service spokeswoman Jane M. Hodgins, the program assesses the species, health, size and conditions of trees, while also determining what types of ground cover and invasive species exist in the 98-foot diameter plots. The urban tree counts are part of larger surveys that have been conducted for almost 80 years.

During the five years of study, the Forest Service would like to include 200 city plots, and the survey is not limited to public lands.

Hodgins said Forest Service and local officials are reaching out to private property owners for voluntary participation. The inventory process could take 30 minutes to 10 hours, “depending on the amount and condition of vegetation within the sample area.”

Accumulated data is shared publicly on the FIA website, http://bit.ly/2un870f.

Tarling said counts on city-owned land will be made first on the Eastern Promenade, at Evergreen Cemetery, Baxter Woods and Payson Park.

The survey takes place as the city renews efforts to better care for and beautify its parks and open spaces by adding funding for second horticulturist and an additional arborist.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Baxter Woods, seen July 12, is one of the areas where Portland will begin an inventory of city trees as part of a five-year survey with the federal government.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.