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Potsdam seeks grants for tree study

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POTSDAM — The village has applied for two forestry grants from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to plant some new trees and create a database of existing ones.

The first application is for a $7,000 grant to plant 35 to 40 trees in the village. Most of these will replace trees lost to age or storm damage.

If Potsdam receives the grant, it is expected to provide a matching $7,000 worth of material and labor.

This decision is about more than beautifying the village, Frederick J. Hanss, director of Potsdam’s Planning and Development Department, said.

“Urban forestry efforts in residential neighborhoods provide a lot of benefits,” he said, citing higher property values and absorption of stormwater as examples.

The grant application is part of a decade-long focus on increasing and diversifying the village’s tree cover.

More than 100 trees have been planted in the past 10 years, Mr. Hanss said.

The second application is for a $25,000 grant to hire a professional arborist to perform a tree inventory. The arborist will examine every tree on public property in the village and create a digital map and database allowing each individual tree to be identified by species and location.

“They’ll give us a rundown on the species that are present, their age, and their general condition,” Mr. Hanss said.

The arborist also will inform the village about any pests or problems found.

Mr. Hanss said he does not know how long such a study would take. It would allow the village to gauge how successful its planting efforts have been.

Potsdam turned its attention to planting trees back in 1998 when an ice storm killed many of the village’s trees.

While considering its replanting efforts the village made an important discovery: most if its trees were silver maples and sugar maples.

This lack of diversity means insects or diseases that target a particular type of tree could kill most of the village’s trees.

Recent efforts have been made to bring in new types of foliage to reduce the risk.

“The idea is that we get away from planting one species of tree,” Mr. Hanss said.

Where once there were mostly maples, the village is now home to hackberries, black locusts and more.

The village works with the DEC to make sure the trees it plants are all environmentally friendly. Many of them are not native to Northern New York, but all are well suited to the climate and none is invasive.

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