July 28, 2006

Boomer Cherry Trees Enter Retirement

Every tree-loving Atlantan knows about the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many have even attended the annual spring event in Macon, GA. The event celebrates the seasonal flowering of Yoshino cherry trees, and has been around for 24 years attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors during its 10-day stretch.

The Yoshino cherries, though, are in trouble. Macon residents, and the Macon City forester Mike Huffman, are well aware that this species of cherry is not a long-lived tree in middle Georgia. In fact, most of the 350,000 Yoshinos (yes, that many!) throughout Macon were all planted about about 35 years ago. This means that many of the trees are in varying stages of environmentally enduced decline, succumbing to the hot, dry summers of the region.

The Cherry Blossom Festival board has asked the city to begin monitoring the cherry tree population - possibly using GPS tracking for monitoring, routine inspections, and citizen education for the care of privately owned trees. The Festival board will also continue to plant more Yoshinos to help replace the aging population, and distribute free seedlings annualy.

The city and the festival board hope to become more proactive about cherry tree management, rather than reactive.

July 4, 2006

Speedier Building Permits Promised

The Arborist Division of the Atlanta Bureau of Buildings has pledged to speed up the plan review process for certain projects. Ainsley Caldwell, the new arboricultural manager for the division, has created a "No Trees Impacted" exception for plans. Normally, all trees that have any type of impact within their critical root zone must have an impact percentage calculated and noted on the site plans. The City requires a prescription for a tree when the impact ranges between 20 and 33 percent. Apparently, the new provision will allow for a site plan to state that no trees will be impacted when the calculated percentage is less than 20%. This could help some site designers turn around their work product faster when there are no trees present on the site, or if the trees will only be minimally impacted.

The "No Trees Impacted" exception is part of Atlanta's Permitting Improvement Project initiated in April 2006. The goal of the project is to decrease the time it takes to issue a permit by 50 percent, by April 2007.