By James Bruggers
Louisville, KY (October 28, 2011)- Louisville’s trees are fighting a losing battle to storms, invasive pests, neglect and age — and the mighty oaks, maples and ash that once towered over parkways, neighborhood streets, parks and backyards are not being replaced.
That’s a problem that goes beyond aesthetics, according to environmental advocates and groups of University of Louisville students and professors who have been studying the status of the city’s “urban forest” and its losses. Their work shows trees can produce millions of dollars in energy savings and pollution reductions, and they are clamoring for a citywide shift.
“Trees are not even on the city’s radar screen, and it’s very short-sighted,” said Katy Schneider, a former deputy mayor under Dave Armstrong who has compared Louisville’s tree policies to those in other cities for a group of government employees and citizens looking into ways for Louisville to improve. Change may be coming, however, for the city’s trees and its tree lovers.
Chris Poynter, spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said his boss is about to give tree advocates what they have sought since at least the mid-1990s– a tree advisory board. “The goal will be to look at ways we can better care for our community’s trees, and to plant more trees,” Poynter said Thursday afternoon. Details will be announced next week in connection with the annual Festival of Faiths, which includes a component on urban forestry.
Schneider, a Festival of Faiths organizer, welcomed the news of a tree board. “It is a first step toward getting the analysis and planning we need to do, regarding our urban canopy.” She said it would also likely give tree experts a larger voice in tree preservation, planting and maintenance.
“In general, the Metro Council would support anything that would increase tree canopy and make us a greener city,” said Metro Council President Jim King. “Naturally, the devil is in the details.” He said council members would want to know what role, if any, the Metro Council would play.
The Courier-Journal: Louisville is losing its big trees and not replacing them