Richmond Tends ‘Urban Forest’

By Kyle Horan and Juliette Delp
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, VA – Richmond is undergoing some serious changes in it’s landscape. American and Winged Elm trees are posing a danger by being too close to the city’s power lines and need to be replaced.

Luke McCall, an arborist with Richmond’s Urban Forestry Division, says the program is not only about removing the hazardous trees but encourages community members to be aware of their environment.

“This program is about education and about elevating people awareness about getting the right tree in the right place and getting proper tree underneath power lines so that they don’t present a safety or maintenance problems, which some of these trees do,” McCall said.

VCU’s student run organization, Green Unity, promotes environmental awareness around VCU. Green Unity Officer Joshua Lamm agrees that spreading environmental awareness will only benefit the future of the urban forest.

“We have to plant these roots here somewhere as we go off and do our own thing, that’ll grow – this base will grow, we’re the future basically,” said Lamm.

In March, Richmond City arborists began marking the dangerous trees with “X’s” and notifying residents that some trees on Cary St. were being removed.

Lyea Phillips, a VCU student, says she understands why this is an important program from a personal experience.

“I have seen it when trees have got in electrical lines and they have sparked small fires and there’s a lot of buildings there,” Phillips said.

The Urban Forestry Division is replacing the dangerous Elms by city appropriate Yoshino-Cherry and Serviceberry trees.

“This isn’t about structurally changing the urban forest of affecting some change on a wide scale this is about a small scale demonstration project,” said McCall.

The Urban Forestry Division received a grant of $5,000, but the demonstration will cost about $12,000, with the City of Richmond covering the rest of the project funds.

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