Council to consider costly tree maintenance program

By on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Columbia Basin Top Stories

WALLA WALLA – The Walla Walla City Council will consider whether to adopt an updated urban forestry management plan at tonight’s (Wednesday) council meeting which begins at 6:30 p.m. The current urban forestry management plan is nearly 20 years old, so the city chose California-based ArborPro, Inc. to collect data on the city’s street trees and update the plan.

ArborPro staff collected tree data in February and March 2021 and visited every street tree in the city, collecting the required attributes of each tree. ArborPro found approximately 1,000 more trees than the previous data indicated.

The tree inventory included trees, stumps, and vacant planting sites within the city along public street rights of way. A total of 10,332 sites were recorded during the inventory which included 7,965 trees, 180 stumps and snags, and 2,187 vacant sites.

ArborPro said 69 percent of Walla Walla’s tree population is in good or better condition, but also recommended maintenance which includes tree removal (two percent), pruning (75 percent), stump removal (two percent), and planting (21 percent). Several high-risk trees were recorded during the inventory. ArborPro recommended 69 of them be removed and 44 trees be pruned to ensure public safety.

In the updated urban forestry management plan, ArborPro said while tree maintenance can be costly and time consuming, the benefits that trees provide justify the expense. A routine pruning cycle ensures that trees are inspected and pruned on a regular basis. The length of this cycle may vary depending, but a five-year cycle is recommended for established trees and a three-year cycle for small-tree training.

To implement the recommended maintenance schedule, ArborPro said the maintenance budget should be no less than $253,721 for year one; $417,750 for year two; $397,250 for year three; $793,590 for year four; and $793,590 for year five. The total five-year maintenance plan cost would be $2,655,901.

Other items the council will consider is allowing for angled parking on Palouse Street adjacent to 303 East Birch Street, where angled parking is currently in play. The upcoming Alder Street/Poplar Street – Merriam to Colville project will reconstruct Palouse Street from Poplar to Birch. If approved, the angled parking accommodation will then be integrated into the Alder Street/Poplar Street – Merriam to Colville project.

The council will also consider authorizing a contract of more than $46,000 with MacKay Sposito for design of the Walla Walla Senior Center parking lot. The parking lot, according to city staff, has numerous safety concerns and needs to be regraded, repaved, and redesigned. The meeting may be viewed on the city’s website and via Zoom. The ID number is 871 8482 1870.