City starts tree inventory project


City-of-MLT-logoThe city has begun a process to identify and record city owned street trees.

Street trees only include the trees located in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and the road, either in a planter bed or tree grates. The data being collected includes the species, height, trunk diameter, proximity to buildings and overhead wires, condition and health of the tree, any required maintenance and the impact on the surrounding sidewalk.

The Community and Economic Development (CED) Volunteer Intern, Meredith Penny (Western Washington State University), under the direction of Senior Planner Edith Duttlinger, developed a proposal and methodology for collecting data on each tree through a joint project with the CED GIS specialist Darryl Greer, Public Works GIS Technician Alex Capron and Public Works Management Analyst Chad Phelan.

The coordinates of each tree are recorded using a Juno Tablet with GPS satellite information. The location of each tree is then linked with the descriptive data and a photograph. From the tablet it can then be uploaded into the City’s GIS system, where the data will be further sorted and mapped. The collection of data for the Town Center was just recently completed.

This data will help the city to identify trees that are in need of maintenance. This could be due to branches that are obstructing the road, encroaching on buildings and overhead wires, or roots that are causing sidewalks to buckle. In the case of trees that are diseased, dead or dying they may need to be completely removed. Trees that are in good health and condition can be preserved. For future plantings, problem species can be identified, along with species that require little maintenance. The hope is that this information can save the city time and money in the long run. Later on, it could even be used to create an interactive map for the city’s website.

“Trees are not only an important part of the aesthetics of our city but they can also increase air quality, reduce runoff and flooding, mitigate the noise from traffic and shade buildings to reduce energy needs. By developing a way to maintain our city’s street trees, we are also helping to maintain the health and sustainability of our city,” Penny said.


  1. This is a good idea. It is also a way to do hazard mitigation by removing limbs or whole trees before they come down and do injury to property or life. This should be identified in the City’s updated natural hazard mitigation plan. Nice work MLT!


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