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March 11, 2009 > Grant will help manage city's 'lungs'

Grant will help manage city's 'lungs'

By Simon Wong

Environmentalists and urban planners look at trees as a city's "lungs," contributing to air quality while offering an escape from traffic, noise and pollution. A well-managed urban forest provides both economic and social benefits. Studies show trees increase property values and enhance commercial settings. There is a correlation between trees and lower crime rates.

The City of Hayward compiled a computerized inventory of 25,000 City street trees in 1992. It's been an invaluable management tool for 17 years, but is now obsolete and no longer supported by a vendor. Additionally, 10,000 trees on school grounds and 80,000 in city parks are not included. An application to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was submitted for a $110,000 Urban Forestry Inventory Grant to upgrade city software and increase its tree inventory. The grant was approved, and last month the City Council voted to use Gas Tax revenues to provide required matching funds.

Of the estimated $220,000 budget, most will be spent on adding inventory: 10,000 Hayward Unified School District trees and 20,000 of 80,000 Hayward Area Recreation and Park District trees. The remainder will be inventoried by city staff as time permits. Data collection is expected to be complete by March 2011.

Data resulting from this effort will include mapping coordinates, species, diameter, canopy area, condition, maintenance needs, hardscape damage present, conflicts with utilities and the size and area of growing space. Software will position trees on aerial photographic base-maps that can be used with work orders. This information will enable the city, school district and parks district to identify tree conditions, prioritize maintenance, and limit liability. Sharing this resource will reinforce and coordinate efforts to effectively manage Hayward's urban forest.

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