New York is home to 600,000 million street trees, which help keep the city’s air clean and add character to the diverse neighborhoods across the five boroughs. But trees need plenty of TLC, and for years many of them were neglected as the city extended the city’s pruning rotation from every seven years to 15 years for each tree. Luckily all of that is now changing as the City Council announced last week that it has added $2 million to NYC’s tree care budget.
Such an increase, which more than doubles Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s allocation of $1.45 million for tree pruning in his current proposed budget, should curb the problems–and lawsuits–that have bedeviled city officials due to the growing number of injuries and accidents stemming from poorly maintained trees in recent years. Fallen tree branches have been a headache in recent years and one of the worst accidents caused the death of a Brooklyn resident in 2003. The city’s park department budget cuts in recent years have proven to be penny wise and pound foolish because of litigation that resulted from poorly maintained trees.
The temporary boost in the tree trimming budget is more important considering the city’s Million Tree planting initiative. More trees in the city may mean more CO2 removed from the local environment, but they also lead to the possibility of even more dangerous and expensive accidents. A New York Times investigative series exposed a tree maintenance system that was full of gaps and saddled with inconsistent tree inspections.
NYC residents who have a tree in their neighborhood that could cause problems or are ready for a pruning can send a “Forestry Service Request” to NYC Parks to have it inspected: just be prepared to wait until 2021 until any actual pruning occurs.
Photos courtesy Kevin Kaye