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Silver Lake is seeking a grant to speed up tree planting, anticipating a die-off

Tree experts are expecting many of Silver Lake’s older trees to die off over the next five years following gas utility work in the village.

To make sure dying trees are replaced, members of the Silver Lake Shade Tree Commission have applied for state money to boost new plantings.

“When the gas utility came through, there was a lot of worry about the danger it posed to our trees. They tore up everything,” commission member Deborah Sanderson said. “If you cut into tree roots without clean clips, you damage the roots. And [if you] don’t look after them well, within five years you have a lot of ill health, and a lot will die off.”

Now the commission is waiting to hear if its bid for $13,862 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Urban Canopy Restoration Grant Program will be successful.

Sanderson spoke at the Oct. 3 village council meeting seeking the village’s backing of the bid – under the grant conditions, any dollar awarded must be matched one for one.

But thanks to the work already in place by the village in managing trees, no additional funding was needed to meet the grant’s terms, Sanderson said. The council agreed to back the bid.

“The three-year average spent on our urban forestry program is $160,727,” Sanderson said. “This pays for a portion of full-time wages, seasonal wages, tree plantings, removals, pruning, and a portion of equipment and maintenance.”

She said commission members realized they already had all the information needed by the grant program from their work since 2010 in studying the village’s tree population.

“The commission was established under the Park Board in 2010,” Sanderson said. “Prior to this, Silver Lake was losing many street trees due to poor planting, siting and unplanned maintenance. The age of our community urban forest created lots of canopy loss, so one of our goals is to educate residents on the importance of restoring our canopy and replanting public trees.”

The original landowner of Silver Lake planted hundreds of maple and oak trees in 1874. But many of these have since been lost, and the five-member shade tree commission seeks to plant about 25 new trees each year.

“We bring awareness to the value of large trees,” Sanderson said. “Not only the fact that trees provide beauty, but that they keep the village cool and filter the water in our lake.”

She said the commission’s master plan ensures tree diversity. Any new plantings are capped at 10% of any one species, with care taken to ensure that the final size of the tree fits with its location so residents do not lose light to their properties and that the species planted can cope with salt and snow piles from winter road plowing.

“All possible scenarios are considered, including distance from curbs, sidewalks, street corners, fire hydrants and water courses, utilities and street lights,” Sanderson said. “New trees are put on a 10-year young-tree training program where we prune every two years, then they are placed on a five-year pruning cycle for the remainder of their lives.”