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Tree plantings delayed until at least November

COVID-19 took a swipe at tree planting delights and spring renewal of the urban forest growth in Williamsport.

Additional trees to be planted to contribute to the city’s canopy won’t be able to be planted until at least November, and then again as a spring renewal in 2021, the city arborist said.

The trees could not be ordered this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Chad Eckert, city forester with the streets and parks department.

Once November arrives, the trees are going to be planted along Little League Boulevard and on Campbell Street, north of the boulevard before harsh weather arrives, he said.

The variety of trees include swamp white oak, hybrid elm, Kentucky coffee and hackberry, he said.

“These are 56 flowering and shade trees,” he said. Trees are targeted for specific neighborhoods to including plantings on: Baldwin Street, from Huffman Avenue to Eldred Street; on Campbell Street, from High Street to Memorial Avenue; and in Brandon Park and along Little League Boulevard, according to the tree planting list.

The cost for covering order of the trees is paid for by a TreeVitalize grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which was nearly $8,000.

The $7,792 grant is a part of the state Urban Renewal and Community Forestry Council and best of all doesn’t require a financial match, said Adam Winder, general manager of public works department.

“That’s accomplished by in-kind service,” he said, adding the college and school volunteers and the continuing maintenance of them by watering them and mulching, he said.

Typically, the city receives help each year from members of the Brandon Park and Shade Tree Commission, streets and parks, Eckert, David Myers, of the streets and parks and volunteers from high schools and colleges, Winder said.

In the city the trees serve as a better look, especially when the ash borer insect took the life of dozens of trees planted along Little League Boulevard, Eckert said.

While the annual Arbor Day celebration was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, five individuals donated trees that the crew planted at Brandon Park, Eckert said.

Those are trees usually named in honor of departed loved ones or in special honor for a family member, he said.

The city also cares about city residents who have a hazardous or diseased tree, he said.

The city has a hazardous tree program that cuts the costs of having the homeowner pay for a contractor to remove a hazardous tree on private property, Eckert said.

Either the resident calls streets and parks for Eckert to take a look at the tree or Eckert identifies hazardous trees. Often, the department will be contacted by a homeowner, Eckert said.

For the cost of between $250 to $500 the city will cut down the tree, removed the stump and grind the tree up, he said.

Trees provide vital oxygen and are a means of helping the city to reduce its silt content getting into the stormwater systems.

Additionally, trees are a natural means of collecting storm water and rain, which keeps the excess silt and unwanted metals from getting into the drainage system and Chesapeake Bay watershed, Winder said.

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