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Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

A 2013 Year - End Report




Inside 3.

Welcome Letter

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 10. 11.

Urban Forest Master Plan Highlights Groups Creating Change Q&A with the City Forester Ash and Oak Trees in Grave Danger Cemeteries Offer Vast Opportunities for Canopy Growth. TreeVitalize is growing and greening Trees for the People, By the People.

All photos by Joey Kennedy photography unless otherwise noted. Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Welcome Pittsburgh’s urban forest: its green hillsides, verdant parks and shaded streets is a valuable municipal resource, making our City a more desirable place to live, work, and play while improving the environment. Moreover, our hillsides have become a new symbol for Pittsburgh, providing an unparalleled and often surprisingly green urban experience for residents and visitors alike. There is a growing body of research that demonstrates just how essential trees are to our quality of life - cooling our city during the hot summer months, helping to reduce water and air pollution, and bringing a sense of calm to our bustling urban life.

...Our hillsides have become a new symbol for Pittsburgh, providing an unparalleled and often surprisingly green urban experience for residents and visitors alike.

Do you want to improve the size and condition of your neighborhood tree canopy? Consider the following ways to get involved:

Become a Tree Tender or volunteer to care for trees in your community by visiting Apply for trees in your community at Contact your elected officials and let them know you appreciate community trees and parks

With proper maintenance, our urban forest is an asset that gains value as it matures. According to the US Forest Service, as trees grow larger their ability to provide environmental services and benefits increases dramatically. David Nowak, of the USDA Forest Service, demonstrates in his research that, “a big tree does 60 to 70 times the pollution removal of a small tree.” Unfortunately, Pittsburgh, along with many other cities in our country, has experienced a substantial decline in its tree canopy due to a variety of causes including construction, pollution, disease, and neglect. Great strides have been made over the last several years to plant and care for publicly-owned trees and to create a greater awareness among Pittsburghers about the benefits that trees provide. Over 1,300 local volunteers have graduated from the Tree Pittsburgh Tree Tender program, demonstrating the renewed enthusiasm for urban forestry. Our efforts to understand the state of our street tree population and to create a comprehensive strategy to improve its size and condition led us to take the steps to deepen our understanding of our urban forest resource as a whole and to create goals and strategies to efficiently protect, manage, and grow the forest across all City neighborhoods. To that end, the City’s very first Urban Forest Master Plan was completed in June 2012, and the following pages will provide an overview of the plan and report on the progress that has been made in year-one. I encourage you to read the plan in greater detail at and contact Tree Pittsburgh to discuss how you can get more involved in growing our urban forest.

Danielle Crumrine Executive Director Tree Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Our vision

Over the next 20 years, Pittsburgh’s urban forest will be a vital and well-managed asset that is locally valued and nationally recognized for its positive social, environmental, economic, and public health impacts on the community and the greater region.

What do we have?

How are we doing?

What do we want?

What do we have?

The urban forest framework includes all of the existing forest management resources and plans already in place and explains how the many urban forestry management partners share in planting, caring for, and maintaining our urban forest. The 2012 state of the urban forest summarizes data obtained from the street tree inventory and management plan (2005), the park tree inventory (2007), the municipal forest resource analysis (2008), the i-Tree ecosystem analysis (2011), and the Urban Tree Canopy Analysis (2011).

What do we want?

Our shared vision for the urban forest was based on the outreach campaign, Tell Us Your Tree Story. The Campaign engaged urban forest partners and the public through partner surveys, public surveys, and community meetings. The vision was established by synthesizing feedback from the public and input from the Steering Committee with guidance from Tree Pittsburgh. The process revealed the community most valued trees for their ability to improve quality of life and help define Pittsburgh’s character.

How do we get there?

Goals and recommendations based on the keystones of urban forestry--connect, engage, manage, plan, and protect--will guide us to achieving our 20-year vision for the urban forest.

How are we doing?

Implementation of the plan requires continual monitoring, analysis, and revision. Progress towards accomplishing recommendations and reaching the shared vision will need to be measured and shared with urban forest partners. This “Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review” report will be created yearly, to measure how we are doing and to keep stakeholders aware of accomplishments made and efforts yet to be realized.

How do we get there?

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Benchmark Values Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Cover (2011) UTC, all areas 40% UTC, excluding water 42% Estimated Tree Count Street Trees (2005) 30,538 Park Trees in Landscaped Areas (2007) 5,666 Complete Urban Forest (2011) 2,628,000* Street Trees Per Capita (2008) 0.09 Total Trees Per Capita (2011) 8.7 Species Diversity: # of Species Exceeding the Recommended 10% Street Trees (2005) 4 Park Trees (2007) 1 Complete Urban Forest (2011) 2 Pest Susceptibility (2011) Asian Longhorned Beetle Emerald Ash Borer Dutch Elm Disease Gypsy Moth

1,780,000 trees (67%) 230,000 trees (9%) 220,000 trees (8%) 175,000 trees (7%)

Street Tree Benefits (2007) Total Annual Benefit Annual Per Tree Benefit Annual Per Capita Benefit

$2,400,975 $53 $8

Urban Forest Benefits (2011) Total Annual Benefit Pollution Removed from Air Gallons of Stormwater Intercepted

$7,232,600 32 tons/year 41.8 million gallons/year

Structural Value Street (2005) Park (2007) Complete Urban Forest (2011)

$37 million $16.5 million $1.13 billion

* source: i-tree ECO

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Groups Put Plans into Action The Urban Forest Master Plan brought together diverse stakeholders from nonprofits, Community Development Corporations, and City government— each with their own knowledge on how urban forestry intersects with community and economic development and storm water management—uniting them under a single vision. With so many partners at the table, how do you coordinate resources and begin to implement a plan with more than 100 recommendations? To start, the Steering Committee formed working groups focused on each of the five urban forestry keystones highlighted in the UFMP. Currently, there are two active working groups, Protect and Connect and Engage with plans to add two more, Plan and Manage. Facilitated by a third party, these groups meet monthly

to prioritize tasks and work towards accomplishing the goals outlined in their 12 to 18- month action plans. The Connect and Engage group is focused on community outreach, training, and education. Because the UFMP revealed that one of the biggest opportunities for increasing tree canopy is on private property, the Connect and Engage group has been strategizing about educational outreach to landscape architects and students, community development corporations, municipal officials and staff, and private landowners. The group hosted a “CDCs and Trees” educational session to help develop neighborhoodfocused urban forestry practices; these sessions will continue in 2014. The group will continue to focus on neighborhoodbased initiatives and solutions to urban forestry issues while encouraging public and private participation in urban

forest management. The Connect and Engage group will continue to implement a coordinated and comprehensive outreach and education campaign. The Protect group is taking a proactive approach to mitigating the most prevalent threats to Pittsburgh’s urban forest: pest and disease. In the spring, they held a Department of Public Works training to educate employees about oak wilt and emerald ash borer; and this summer, the group visited Frick Park and other sites that were afflicted with oak wilt during the previous year to assess whether pest treatments were successful. The group intends to do more public outreach about oak wilt, so that park visitors can help scout for outbreaks while they’re walking the trails.

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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with City Forester

Lisa Ceoffe

The City of Pittsburgh is a vital partner in managing the urban forest. We asked Lisa Ceoffe, City Forester, about the City’s progress in meeting urban forestry goals. What progress has been Have you secured or made on developing a identified any new streams protocol for maintenance of of funding? public trees? The Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission is funding an Operational Review, this review will be an in-depth analysis of the entire need of the department, including equipment, staffing, training, and resources to manage the City’s urban forest now and into the future.

The City Forestry Division has been understaffed. What’s your plan to recruit new employees? We’re looking for local talent, and we’re working on creative ways to get more people in the pool. We hired four tree pruners this year. We tested applicants on a variety of techniques to determine their eligibility, and even had a tree climbing demonstration in advance of the testing day. We are encouraging our pruners to become ISA Certified Arborists.

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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There is currently funding from various sources other than Capital or Operational available to the Forestry Department. We continue to partner and leverage funds to stretch our dollars. It’s important to have conversations about innovative new funding streams, and to pass new legislation that supports the management of our urban forest.

The City of Pittsburgh uses a street tree inventory which analyzes the current tree population. How are you updating the tree inventory? The tree inventory will be updated in 2014. We plan to add approximately 16,000 new street trees and introduce a new mobile application so that supervisors can make updates to the inventory in the field using smart phones. Interns are assisting with updating information at the Forestry field office. Right now the emphasis is on ash trees. We completed field verification and developed a rating system to establish systematic tree removals and replacements.



Killing Ash of

Oak &

Protecting Ash and Oak Trees is a Community Effort

Thousands of trees have been planted over the last six years – but without measures to protect them, Pittsburgh’s urban forest could lose thousands more. Already, many city trees have fallen prey to invasive pests and diseases, particularly emerald ash borer and oak wilt. One of the goals of the UFMP is to minimize these risks, ensuring the health of the urban forest far into the future.

for preservation had to meet four criteria: the trees had to be historically significant, in an important location, in relatively good condition, and spread out over a wide area. Once the locations were identified, they injected between 7 and 30 ash trees with TREE-age, the pesticide most effective at controlling emerald ash borer. To date, 158 trees have been treated, with more to follow.

With the creation of the UFMP’s Protect working group, a brigade of committed individuals has come together to guard Pittsburgh’s trees. Phil Gruszka, Director of Park Management and Maintenance at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and his team have developed a strategy for pest control in the parks. To better understand emerald ash borer and oak wilt, Gruszka first consulted with municipal foresters in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, as well as experts at Purdue University and Michigan State, who had firsthand experience dealing with these threats.

The trick to combating oak wilt is to catch it early when the fungus is limited to only a handful of trees. Once it spreads, acres of trees could risk removal. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has held meetings with city residents and public works employees to show them how to spot the first signs of a sick oak: dry, brown leaves. The PA DCNR has also done aerial scouting.

Armed with greater technical knowledge, Gruszka and his team scoured the woodlands for white and green ash trees infested with Emerald ash borer. The ash trees selected

“The more eyeballs we can put on these pests, the better we’ll be,” Gruszka said.

UFMP Pest and Disease Working Group Partners: City of Pittsburgh Forestry Division Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Penn State Extension Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Tree Pittsburgh Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

For more information, visit: fidls/oakwilt/oakwilt.htm

With UFMP partners and watchful citizens presenting a united front, Pittsburgh’s urban forest will be better able to withstand exotic and invasive pests and diseases in the years ahead.

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Remember me with a tree:

Cemeteries Offer Vast Opportunities for Canopy Growth

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Cemeteries are home to a large percentage of Pittsburgh’s trees—but there’s room for many more to be planted. With few roads and buildings, they offer a substantial amount of usable green space. Allegheny Cemetery, one of Pittsburgh’s oldest cemeteries, stretches out across 300 acres in Lawrenceville. A green respite in an urban landscape, roughly 56% of the cemetery is covered with trees, and there’s a potential for 43% additional canopy. Ever since storms decimated more than 300 trees in 2002, Tree Pittsburgh and TreeVitalize staff and volunteers have worked hard to increase the canopy and tree diversity there, planting 200 trees to date. When Davey Resource Group completed a tree inventory for Allegheny Cemetery in 2006, they discovered that the cemetery was overpopulated with pin oaks. Such a lack of species diversity can make the forest more susceptible to disease and pests. Just as important as species diversity is age diversity – and that’s an issue Homewood Cemetery is planning to counteract with tree plantings. The cemetery on Frick Park’s borders contains an older population of trees, which means large numbers of trees could die in the coming years. Volunteers have planted more than 100 trees in addition to caring for aging trees through pruning and maintenance. The data collected for the Urban Forest Master Plan allows Tree Pittsburgh to improve outreach to cemeteries across the city and gain support from their managers. Currently, Allegheny and Union Dell cemeteries have completed tree inventories and management strategies, and Homewood Cemetery is working on an inventory.

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Every Tree Counts: TreeVitalize Looks Holistically at Plantings When Jeff Bergman, Director of TreeVitalize, evaluates a site for a tree planting, he looks for wires overhead and possible obstructions on the ground, and considers which tree species will thrive there. This basic forestry mantra,“Right Tree, Right Place,” has guided the planting of over 20,000 trees. But now, thanks to the UFMP, TreeVitalize is taking a more holistic approach. “We’ve always given priority to disadvantaged neighborhoods where tree canopy is lowest, but now we have the data to back up our decisions,” said Bergman. “If we look at a map and see a hole in the canopy, we can strategize about doing a tree planting there and focus outreach in that area.”

“If we look at a map and see a hole in the canopy, we can strategize about doing a tree planting there and focus outreach in that area.” Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Outreach might include organizing a training for residents in a low canopy neighborhood about the TreeVitalize community application process or gathering together residents to meet Tree Tenders from around the city. Before the UFMP, the plantings through the TreeVitalize program were directed more by the community application process than by a specific planting plan. Now the UFMP is directing plantings to take into account specific recommendations, and matching

specific tree benefits to site needs. For instance, the trees that have been planted along the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway were selected to improve air quality, and trees along Washington Boulevard were planted to help manage storm water runoff. TreeVitalize will continue to source trees locally and encourage nurseries to grow more native species, especially evergreens. Historically, eastern white pines, Canadian hemlocks, and evergreen trees comprised ten percent of Western Pennsylvania’s forest before settlers removed them for lumber. Bergman says the goal is to recover that diversity. Long overlooked pine and spruce trees offer benefits over deciduous trees; they’re more resistant to insects, provide ideal wildlife habitats, and help reduce pollution. The UFMP encourages the TreeVitalize team to consider the specific benefits that every tree offers—and carefully select trees to create positive changes in our neighborhoods, watersheds, and parks. Visit to learn how to apply to TreeVitalize for a tree planting in your community.


Engage When Nancy Levine, a Highland Park resident, first applied to have a tree planted in her front yard, she never dreamed she would become part of a team that would plant 300 trees along the streets in her neighborhood. In 2008, Levine was one of the first participants in Tree Pittsburgh’s Tree Tender class, an 8-hour course where she learned the basics about urban forestry, tree planting and care. Since then, she has served as the lead organizer for the Highland Park Tree Tenders—at 35 members, they’re one of the largest Tree Tender groups in the City.

Coordinating all of the Tree Tenders in Highland Park is no small task, but Levine happily fits volunteering around her work as a family physician. Typically in January, Levine hosts a gathering of Tree Tenders to discuss plans for the year. Once winter lifts, the hard work begins—each spring and fall, the Tree Tenders organize one to two tree plantings and four to five tree care days where volunteers prune, weed, mulch, and remove litter around newly planted trees.

to sign on to have trees planted in their yards.

Tree plantings can take months to plan, beginning with the challenge of convincing neighbors that they want a tree in the first place. When the group identifies an area in the neighborhood that needs trees, Levine assigns a few block captains and several Tree Tenders to walk door-to-door, asking their neighbors

The Tree Tenders have planted so many trees in Highland Park in recent years that they have shifted their attention to tree maintenance in 2013. “Well cared for trees tell people that this is a well cared for neighborhood,” said Levine. “We’re invested in living here.”

Levine says a third of people typically want a tree, a third refuses the tree request, and a third can be talked into the benefits. “Trees are the perfect vehicle to combat global warming, like little carbon fixing machines,” said Levine. “Tree-lined streets make a neighborhood more welcoming and walkable, and even discourage crime.”

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review

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Learn to identify major threats to Pittsburgh’s urban forest





Asian longhorned beetle

Emerald ash borer

Oak wilt

Hemlock woolly adelgid

Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is an insect that bores into and kills a wide range of hardwood species, including maple. ALB are 1-11/2 inches long, with long black and white antennae. Look for dime-sized exit holes and shallow scars in the tree’s bark to identify infected trees.

The Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a bright, metallic green pest infesting ash trees. They are typically 1/2 an inch long and 1/8 an inch wide. The pest bores into trees, destroying tissue under the bark that provides the tree with water and nutrients. Once affected, the canopy of the tree will begin to thin and die.

This destructive fungus is lethal to trees in the red oak group. Oak wilt typically attacks small pockets or groups of oak trees. Oak leaves will fade or turn a yellow to bronze color, beginning at the edges. The leaves will begin to wilt, turn brown, and fall from the tree.

The Urban Forest Master Plan is the product of many partners but implementation is being stewarded by Tree Pittsburgh.

Hemlock woolly adelgid can be spotted on the underside of lower branches of hemlock trees. The egg sac of the HWA looks like the tip of a cotton swab. Once hatched, the insects are small and range in color from a dark brown to blackish-purple.

5427 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15206 412-362-6360

Pittsburgh Urban Forest Review  

A look at our progress on Pittsburgh's Urban Forest Master Plan.

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