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Upcoming tree survey to track condition of Creve Coeur’s urban forest

SeelyIn 2009, and earlier this year, arborists went around looking at trees on public lands in the city of Creve Coeur. One by one, they counted until they were done.

In 2009, surveyors found that Creve Coeur’s parks contained 1,705 trees. In April, they reported that public spaces (city rights-of-way) next to streets in Creve Coeur’s first and second wards (east of Interstate 270) contained 2,040 trees.

In an inventory set to begin soon in the third and fourth wards, (generally west of I-270) they should find about 4,000 more trees, said Doug Seely, Creve Coeur parks foreman and city arborist (pictured at right). Using computers, aerial maps and GPS units, they can pinpoint the location of each tree and guarantee an exact count.

It’s not just interesting facts, but information the city needs to know about the condition of its trees, including which ones are in ill health, need pruning or have an insect problem, and where the city should plant more.

“It helps us set budgets for the amount of work we need to do,” Seely said.

Most of the cost is covered by grants from the Missouri Department of Conservation. However, for the upcoming count, the city will match a state grant of up to $25,000 with labor and about $3,000 of its cash.

One tree species the arborists worry about is the ash tree, which is a target of the emerald ash borer. So far, that pest isn’t known to be in Creve Coeur yet. But an infestation was found this spring in Lake Saint Louis.

The work is painstaking and must be done in the cold of winter.

“For the GPS, you can get better readings without the leaves being on the trees,” Seely said.

For the upcoming survey, the surveyors will walk up and down streets to count trees. Where there are sidewalks, they’ll cover the areas between sidewalks and the streets. Where there aren’t sidewalks, they’ll cover the city rights-of-way between the streets and where sidewalks would be.

Trees located on private property will not be included in the counts.

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