Kingston Tree Commission
||(Professional - At Pleasure of Mayor)
||(Memorial Tree Fund - At Pleasure of Mayor)
|Suzanne Cahill, Planning Director*
||At Pleasure of Mayor - Non voting member
|Rennie Scott Childress*
||Common Council Liaison - Non voting member
TREE PLANTING PROGRAM - The City of Kingston and the Kingston Tree Commission are offering a Tree Planting Program for residents and business owners interested in a street tree planting. CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION. Species and final locations will be chosen by the Tree Commission with a focus on encouraging biodiversity, targeting neighborhoods with low canopy cover, and planting sites that are most suitable for tree growth.
Kingston Tree Commission – The Kingston Planning Office oversees activities of the Commission including and Street Tree Planting Program for businesses and residents, and the Annual Arbor Ceremony. In addition, workshops are conducted for residents in skills such as basic pruning activities and we work with other municipal agencies on other projects to promote urban forestry and apply for grant funding opportunities to expand the urban forest landscape. The Tree Commission is currently seeking funding sources for a tree planting project to replace some of the City of Kingston's urban forest which has been subject to removal for various reasons. The City has been designated as a “Tree City USA” for 27 years straight, and we have been given Growth Awards for work undertaken in 19 of those years.
Tree Inventories - In 2018, with a grant through the DEC Urban and Community Forestry program, City of Kingston contracted with ArborPro, Inc. to conduct a tree inventory of the City's street trees and park trees and to complete a management plan. These inventories are used as a tool by the tree commission when reviewing tree removal and pruning permits, as well as, identifying locations for future tree plantings. For more information please see Inventory Summary Report, Street Tree Inventory Summary Report, Park Tree Inventory Summary Report, Management Plan.
Tree Removal Maintenance Project - After completion of the tree inventory and the management plan, the City of Kingston applied for and received funds under the DEC Urban and Community Forestry Programs to conduct a tree maintenance project. $50,000 in grant funding was awarded with a 20% match provided by the City of Kingston and the Memorial Tree Fund. These funds allowed for the removal of 82 failing trees many of which were identified in the inventory as being "Priority 1 Removal". The designation of "Priority 1 Removal" was given to trees that are "unable to be effectively or practically treated, pose an elevated risk of failure, and/or can be seen as a danger to persons or property." To complete the tree work, the City bid the project and awarded the contract to the low bidder LW Tree Service. Work was completed in the spring of 2020.
CITY WIDE STREET TREE PROJECT - The City of Kingston competed a City-wide Tree Planting Program with Funding form the NYSDEC urban and Community Forestry Program in 2023. Three separate plantings projects were accomplished, with a net increase of 80 trees being planted, 6 in City Parks and the balance along City Streets. Private property owners were engaged to have the trees planted and to secure the ongoing care and maintence of the new trees.
Future Funding & Projects - The City of Kingston is currently undergoing significant infrastructure projects that are impacting our public tree population. The Tree Commission is aware that new trees need to be planted and maintained to encourage a healthy urban forest. The City is actively seeking additional funds to complete more maintenance, remove existing stumps, and plant new trees to add to our parks and streetscape. In additional to seeking outside funding sources, the many of the infrastructure projects that are underway include replacement and/or creation of new tree pits with tree installations.
TREES OF KINGSTON: ANCIENT TREES GRACE A CITY PARK
Article written by Lin Fagan, Tree Commission, City of Kingston
Academy Green is situated where Midtown Kingston meets Uptown Kingston. This historic spot, a city park since 1918, is home to a dozen trees of an ancient lineage: Metasequoia glyptostroboides-- Dawn Redwoods. This species was unknown to modern science until 1941, when 150 million year old fossil trees were discovered and described by a Chinese paleobotanist as an ancient variety of conifers. Other fossil trees, found across the northern hemisphere and in Australia and thought to have been extinct for 2 million years, have also been recognized as Metasequoias. In 1944, a forester in a remote area of China discovered a previously unknown “fir” tree that was part of a local shrine. More individuals of this unusual tree were found in remote areas in China in the same decade and were recognized to be the same species as the fossil trees. The tree received its modern scientific name in 1946. Only two years later seeds and seedlings were brought to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Mass., and it quickly became a popular ornamental tree not only in the U.S. but worldwide. Although its survival as a cultivated tree seems secure, and is a protected species in China, it is endangered in its last wild locations due to overharvesting of seeds and seedlings.
How did these trees come to be in Kingston? No doubt because of the popularity of this exotic ancient species in the last half of the 20th century. Members of the Ulster Garden Club report that the dozen Dawn Redwoods were planted as saplings by local resident and horticulturist, Herb Cutler, an honorary member of the Garden Club, in the 1980’s. Possibly they were planted to help celebrate the installation of the 19th century cast iron fountain at the east end of the Academy Green in 1982.
Dawn Redwoods are related to the giant Sequoias and Redwoods of the American West and the water-loving Bald Cypresses of the Southern U.S. A fast growing tree, when planted in favorable locations they can grow to 170 feet in height with trunks 5 feet in diameter. They are hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8 and can tolerate air pollution and waterlogged soils. There is an unusual trait of this species: in the winter, when the Dawn Redwood loses its leaves, DON’T THINK IT IS DEAD AND START TO CUT IT DOWN ! The Dawn Redwood is a deciduous conifer, like its American cousin the Bald Cypress and the more distantly related Larch (or Tamarack). The trunks have fibrous, stringy, light brown bark. In the winter, it looks like a tree drawn by an artistic middle-schooler, with symmetrical bare branches and a pyramidal-shaped top. In the spring the branches sprout feathery green leaves which turn reddish brown in the fall. Small (1”) cones start out green then mature into a brown color. Although this ambassador from ancient times and exotic locales may be considered “non-native,” it is not an invasive species. These 12 unique trees make a lovely “allee” in our historic park, changing with the seasons. (One of the Redwoods succumbed and was replaced a few years ago. How long will it take to catch up with its companions?)
SUBMIT YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO OF A CITY OF KINGSTON PUBLIC TREE FOR CONSIDERATION OF BEING POSTED HERE - All photos must include credit name, date taken and location. Submissons can be emailed to [email protected]
The Tree Commission is group of citizens appointed by the Mayor and administered through the Kingston Planning Department to monitor the health of the street trees of the City. They advise home and business owners in the care of the street-side trees on their property and authorize removals and re-plantings to help Kingston maintain its status as a “Tree City.” For more information contact the Kingston Planning Office at 845-334-3955 or [email protected].