URBANA — Not selling its “Tree City USA” designation short, the city of Urbana likely will share the cost of taking a detailed inventory of its prized tree stock to get a better handle on its “urban forest.”
City council members on Monday night gave preliminary approval to purchase software and an inventory that will count trees and list them by characteristics like address, size, tree type, condition and any notable features they may have.
The city has budgeted $63,850 for the tree inventory and software, and the Urbana Park District plans to chip in an additional $16,263, according to city documents. The two agencies split the cost based on the estimated number of trees on their respective properties: about 14,000 on city property and 4,000 on park district land.
City arborist Mike Brunk said the inventory is very important to plan tree maintenance and can help officials manage the forest more efficiently. The city’s tree infrastructure is worth millions — a single tree can have an average value anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 based on its size, condition and what kind of quality of life benefits it adds to its surroundings.
The city took its last inventory in 1997, and the platform it runs on is hard to manage, Brunk said. The new data will be loaded onto a public website.
The database will be open to anyone, which means residents will be able to look up their address and add up the value of the trees near their property, Brunk said. It will also be available to other interested groups, like students working on research projects.
The city of Champaign purchased a tree inventory and accompanying software last year at a cost of $90,000.