We have watched with great concern as a number of cities explore shifting responsibility for street tree care from professionals to homeowners.
Fortunately, the issue – which often runs under the radar and off the front pages – has begun to receive the attention it deserves.
And, some cities are starting to look at creative alternatives. Rather than arbitrary staff reductions or indefinite shits in responsibility, what about some kind of voluntary hybrid?
That’s the approach being pursued by Chico (pictured above), a nature-filled and recreation-oriented Northern California town of 86,000 that is also home to one of the nation’s largest municipal parks.
According to the Chico Enterprise-Record, interested residents can receive a new maple or gingko tree free from the city in exchange for the promise to care for the newly-planted tree for at least three years. By empowering residents who want to participate, resources are freed up for the city’s more than 30,000 existing trees in need of pruning and care.
About two hundreds trees have been planted in the first two years of the program, city officials say.
It’s not a substitute for professional staff – and it remains unfortunate that Chico and cities throughout the country have endured so many layoffs – but it’s an option worth considering and perhaps emulating.