Buffalo, NY (April 7, 2008)- Mayor Byron W. Brown today announced the creation of a new City Forester position, which is funded through a $1 Million City Reforestation Fund created by Mayor Brown in the city’s 2007-08 Budget. Mayor Brown, joined by Acting Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak, introduced Jeffrey D. Brett in a press conference held in Riverside Park, one of the city’s famed Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks.
“The October Surprise Storm of 2006 destroyed or damaged the vast majority of trees throughout the City of Buffalo, including trees in city parks, which encompasses the landmark Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park system, “said Mayor Brown. “As part of our continuing effort to restore the city to its pre-storm condition, I created a fund in the 2007-08 city budget that included the reestablishment of a city forester position, which has not existed in the city since 2005. I am pleased today to introduce Jeff Brett as the city’s new forester and I know he’ll be an excellent addition to the ongoing process of repairing and strengthening the City of Buffalo’s urban forest.”
Jeff Brett comes to the city after serving the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy since 2004 as the organization’s Tree Care Supervisor. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, licensed commercial pesticide technician and is a member of the International Society of Arboriculture. Following the October Surprise Storm of 2006, he performed 5,000 hazard tree inspections as an arborist for the city.
It is estimated that 85% of the City’s estimated 65,000 trees (including 12,000 in the Olmsted Parks System) were damaged in the October Surprise Storm. In the city, approximately 7,400 trees were lost entirely.
Once the storm crisis subsided, Buffalo made use of its 2003 Urban Forest Master Plan, which set a 10 year goal of 88,400 trees for the city. Based on a city wide 2001 inventory of trees, the Master Plan was utilized to map the damage and prepare a re-planting plan, which would require community involvement as well as city resources. The City Department of Public Works designated $50,000 for “The Community Reforestation Empowerment Initiative,” a tree planting process established by Re-Tree WNY to build capacity within 48 neighborhood block clubs to plant 1,680 trees. The Mayor’s Quality of Life coordinator worked with the City’s Forest Manager, Public Works Department, Management Information Systems Department, and Citizen Services to support the efforts of 504 volunteers from the block clubs. Other volunteer efforts included the replacement of nearly 400 trees in Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks system in April 2007.
Following the October Surprise Storm of 2006, Wendel developed a GIS-based tree management system for Buffalo, which helped identify and manage storm-related damaged trees in the city and has further broadened the city’s forestry management capabilities.
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