FARMINGTON/JAY — Farmington’s Conservation Commission has received a Project Canopy grant to survey trees on 24 streets in the downtown area, and parts of Hippach Field, using the USDA Forest Service i-Tree Streets web program. Members of Spruce Mountain Envirothon Teams used that program while preparing for this year’s competitions and are collaborating with the Commission on the project.

The Commission applied for a Project Canopy grant last year to help fund a tree inventory that would assess for defects, health issues, insect damage and potential safety concerns in the town’s trees. The information collected would then be compiled and used to give officials and residents an idea of the value of specific trees and recommendations on how to manage them.

The grant application stated Farmington Fire Rescue responded to 43 tree related emergencies in 2014. Patty Cormier, Commission and Fire Rescue member, later said about ten percent of all calls involved trees.

Also noted in the application was the potential for insect attacks in the town’s trees. The survey could assist the town in reducing vulnerability to those insects. Other listed concerns were the clear lack of planning, which is costing the town money, and the potential liability that comes from not addressing the management needs of the town’s street trees.

The $8,958 grant was approved earlier this year. As part of the grant, the town will provide a $4,000 match. The match may be in the form of in-kind services and time Commission members spend is considered one of those services.

The Spruce Mountain Envirothon Teams got involved with this project through Conservation Commission member Sally Speich. She used to teach at Spruce Mountain Middle School where Rob Taylor, the Spruce Mountain Envirothon advisor, still teaches. She has kept in touch with him and when she learned that his teams were using the i-Tree Streets program, she asked for his assistance.

Envirothon is a national competition that focuses on natural resources. Team members study Forestry, Aquatic Ecology, Wildlife Biology, and Soil Science. They then take tests at competitions to show how much they have learned. Each year, another component of the competition involves a current issue. Each team must develop and present their plan for a project based on that issue.

This year, the Envirothon current issue was Urban and Community Forestry. Spruce Mountain had three Envirothon teams this year. To help prepare for the current issue topic, nine members, Taylor, and another teacher took an Academ-e online class on Urban and Community Forestry for dual high school and college credit through the University of Maine in Orono. As part of the class, they used the i-Tree Streets program to survey 75 trees on the Spruce Mountain Campus as well as trees near the Livermore Falls gazebo.

On Tuesday, Taylor and two Envirothon members met with members of Farmington’s Conservation Commission to share information on what they had learned about the i-Tree Streets program.

Taylor said he measured while Envirothon team member Bryan Riley recorded the data when surveying trees at Spruce Mountain. The replacement value for those 75 trees was determined to be $150,000. “That’s way more than stumpage!” Taylor said. The value is high due to the size, age and aesthetics of those trees.

Riley said carbon sequestration and the aesthetic value of the trees will be provided from the survey results. How many trees per mile of street will also be given.

Taylor worked with the town manager and Spruce Mountain groundskeepers before beginning tree surveys in Livermore Falls and at the school. “It was interesting to hear their viewpoint,” he said. At the beginning, they asked about cost, security and maintenance concerns. “When done, they had a different perspective,” Taylor said.

Street trees are important for their inherent values. They help with temperature control, provide aesthetics, and play a role in storm water drainage control when healthy. Without proper planning and maintenance, trees can become a liability.

On July 10, survey teams will begin the data collection. They will meet at Meetinghouse Gazebo at 7 a.m. Each three or four person team will wear orange safety vests while looking at the town’s trees.

Trees on private property will not be assessed unless they are a hazard to people or town property. Each team will consist of at least an arborist, a forester, and a Conservation Commission member. Others may be involved too.

The teams will be using a laptop or an iPad and a Smartphone to collect data to put into the i-Tree Streets program. It is hoped to have the field data collection completed by this fall.

The Project Canopy grant will provide funding to hire an arborist to help with the tree inventory. Mark Ingrisano, who operates Deep Root Tree and Landscape Service, Inc., will be that arborist.

The streets that will have trees inventoried include:

Pleasant Street

Park Street

Broadway

Front Street

Depot Street

Main Street (From Rte. 2 to Pleasant Street intersection)

Prescott Street

Greenwood Ave.

Maple Ave. (to High Street intersection)

High Street (from Maple Ave. to Court Street)

Court Street (to Grove Street intersection)

Grove Street

Perham Street (to north Street intersection)

Fountain Street

North Street (to Orchard Street intersection)

Orchard Street

Academy Street

Maguire Street

Perkins Street

Lincoln Street

Quebec Street

Middle Street (to Quebec St. intersection)

South Street

Elm Street

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