2018 Guttenberg Tree Inventory

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The strong, majestic trees growing along city boulevards and in the city park provide the community with a wealth of financial and health benefits. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Guttenberg is blessed with a large assortment of healthy, strong trees. They support beautiful snowfalls on their limbs in the winter and sport intense, light green, leaf buds in the spring. They provide a dark green canopy of shade mid-summer and draw travelers from near and far in the fall as they begin to show their true colors. 

In 2018 a complete inventory of our community's trees that grow along the city streets and in the park was  conducted using a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) data collector. The collected information was written to be compatible with a state-of-the-art software suite called i-Tree. The USDA Forest Service developed i-Tree to assess the structure of community trees and the environmental services the trees provide.

According to Richard Kittelson from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who prepared the study, the data collected revealed we have an estimated 842 trees, with over 30 different species. The top three varieties were 36 percent maple, 16 percent hackberry and nine-and-a-half percent ash. The city has 37 percent of these trees in need of some type of management. It was found that 71 trees, 54 of them ash, are recommended for removal. 

It was estimated that 51 percent of the community's trees are greater than 18 inches in diameter at four-and-a-half feet. This finding put Guttenberg's size curve on the larger side, indicating an older than average stand. 

The survey revealed 53 of the 83 ash trees have signs and symptoms of possible Emerald Ash Borer infestation. EAB is an extremely destructive, invasive beetle that is responsible for the death and decline of millions of ash trees in the United States. 

After the completion of the inventory, a plan was developed to assist the city in managing our urban forest. Recommendations for routine checks, pruning, removal and suggestions for planting a more diverse mix of trees was proposed. 

The trees in our community are an important component of our infrastructure and one of our greatest assets. Communities that have a healthy canopy of trees can benefit from improved air quality, increased storm water runoff interception, better energy conservation, lower traffic speeds, increased property values, reduced crime rates, and an overall improvement in physical and mental health, not to mention they are beautiful to look at.  

The recent inventory suggested that Guttenberg's tree population provides approximately $39,674.15 annually in energy benefits by shading buildings and blocking winds. 

The trees intercept about 1,910400.94 gallons of rainfall and snow melt each year, which provides the city with a $51,771.87 benefit to stormwater management.

It was estimated that our trees remove 2,351.56 pounds of air pollution each year with a net value savings of $6,572.81.

The trees' removal of 384,399.51 pounds  of carbon a year has an associated value of $2,883. The storage of 6,024,225.13 pounds of carbon has a benefit of $45,181.69 each year. 

Social benefits of trees are a statistic that is hard to assess, but the research estimated that Guttenberg receives $39,978.95 annually from our timber. 

A complete copy of the 2018 Urban Forest Management Plan  can be found on the City of Guttenberg's website at www.cityofguttenberg.com.

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