The Trees for Johnstown initiative is a partnership between the Western PA Conservancy, the City of Johnstown, the Shade Tree Commission, and the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies. Johnstown’s Vision2025 recently got involved with this project in an effort to preserve and enhance the greenspace throughout Johnstown.
“The Conservancy is so pleased to again partner with this initiative and bring our community forestry work to Johnstown in 2018,” said Jeffrey Bergman, the director of community forestry & TreeVitalize Pittsburgh for the Conservancy. “The involvement of community residents and stakeholders is essential to the success of any planting project because people come to understand the value of the trees as a resource and how to care for them over time. This helps ensure that the trees thrive and provide the community with the many environmental, economic and aesthetic benefits we seek through our work. The Johnstown community has embraced the Trees for Johnstown Project and the Conservancy is excited to continue this work over the next year.”
During the summer of 2017, the Western PA Conservancy came to Johnstown to conduct a “Street Tree Inventory” in order to better assess the current condition of Johnstown’s greenspace environment.
During this inventory they collected data including:
- Good, Fair, Poor, Dead
- Type, surrounding area, targets
- Hanging branches
- Rotting Stump
It was found that 1,343 public trees are located throughout the Johnstown area, and of those trees over 60% were varieties of maple trees. However, one issue that was discovered during the inventory was the average age of trees in our area. While the ideal age of trees in any area is skewed to to be younger, in Johnstown, the age of our trees are more evenly distributed.
“Adding young trees is so crucial to the Johnstown tree canopy to add age diversity. As the older trees age out and die there will be no trees left if new ones are not regularly planted. Trees provide so many benefits we take for granted such as storing carbon, cleaning the air, and intercepting stormwater. I am especially passionate about the work that we do because we engage the local community and empower people to continue this work on their own.” – Lauren Fike, Western PA Conservancy
Using an industry standard software developed by the US department of forestry known as iTree, the survey team was able to collect and analyze meaningful data regarding the trees.
While there is obviously some data that only those involved in the conservancy industry find useful , the data collected that would interest residents the most is the cost benefits that trees provide.
It was computed that the trees currently in the Johnstown area provide over $200,000 in annual benefits to our residents
After all of the data collection and analysis was completed, it was time to get the community in Johnstown engaged with the project. This engagement started in the Fall of 2017 with the first “Tree Tenders” meeting.
Learning the Ropes
During the Tree Tenders event, attendees learned the basics of planting and pruning the trees, as well as the biology of trees and how that affects the care needed to ensure the tree flourishes.
This knowledge would come in handy nearly a month later when the first Community Tree Planting took place in downtown Johnstown.
The Community Tree Planting provided the opportunity for residents of Johnstown to “get their hands dirty” by working side by side with professionals in the Conservancy field. Along with the new trees, the Conservancy also provided forestry, planting event planning, and community education and outreach expertise. The session kicked off with representatives of the WPC demonstrating the proper technique used when planting trees.
There are currently two more Community Tree Tenders planting events planned for 2018.
- May 12th – 25 trees planted
- September (Date TBD) – 25 trees planted
These events are all part of an overall “Tree-vitalize” initiative, which aims to plant a total of 20,000 trees throughout Western Pennsylvania.
“The TreeVitalize program is a state-wide program that started in 2004. The TreeVitalize Pittsburgh program established in 2008, and is managed by WPC. Since 2008, we have planted over 29,000 trees in an effort to improve the quality of life and the environment in the Pittsburgh region. We plant all of our trees with volunteers so anyone interested is welcome to come to a tree planting in the City of Pittsburgh. Other communities can apply to the state grants to get trees funded for their region as well.” – Lauren Fike, Western PA Conservancy