Piedmont’s trees are the gifts that keep on giving, says city parks manager

Brian Mahany

The Climbing Tree at Piedmont Park

This city has a pretty good handle on its “urban forest” — there’s now a formal inventory of more than 10,000 trees the city maintains.

Nancy Kent, Piedmont’s parks and project manager, said she hopes that number goes up just a bit in the near future. Having one tree for each of the city’s 11,300 or so residents would make for a nice round number, she said.

Nancy Kent is Piedmont’s parks and project manager

Any tree growing either in the parking strip along city streets — the section between the curb and the sidewalk — or in one of Piedmont’s city parks is part of that inventory. That inventory, organized using “Treekeeper” software, was compiled by the Davey Tree Expert Co. It does not include the thousands of trees on private property, which are the responsibility of those properties’ owners.

“This will help us understand what we have, and how we’ll manage these trees in the future,” said Kent, who knows the trees, and their well-being, are important to Piedmonters on several levels. “If the trees are on public land, the city is maintaining them.”

Also in the works is an interactive map of all of the city’s street trees. The result, Kent said, will be for “residents to go onto our website and look up the trees in front of their houses.”

The inventorying effort will also make it easier to track work orders for tree pruning or other maintenance, Kent said. Three Public Works staffers are responsible for that work. Kent and Nick Millosovich, Piedmont’s supervisor of maintenance, administer the program. Millosovich is also a certified arborist. Kent said the city prunes approximately 1,000 trees a year, and that she appreciates the Piedmont City Council’s long-running support to fund a robust tree pruning program and other arboreal care.

Kent and other city officials are well aware Piedmonters love their trees, as was demonstrated by the robust attendance at the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration April 27 at the Community Hall. (A video connected to that event can be seen HERE.)

While the aesthetic charms of a robust urban forest are immediately apparent, the trees also help the city achieve its environmental sustainability goals. Trees sequester carbon dioxide by removing it from the atmosphere and storing it, which can help fend off global warming, said Alyssa Dykman, Piedmont’s sustainability manager. Each tree can absorb 40 to 50 pounds of CO2 annually, Dykman explained.

Dykman said Piedmont is working to be a leader among cities in incorporating its urban forest into the city’s overall sustainability arsenal, which also includes everything from composting and recycling to the city’s commitment to move away from natural gas heating and cooking to electric power. 

“It will take a combination of all these things we’re doing to move forward,” Dykman said.

The city is trying to better understand which tree species work best in Piedmont’s climate, and Dykman said new species are being tried out. An example: a species of oak tree native to the Channel Islands off the California coast – and previously not found in Piedmont – was planted adjacent to St. James Drive. She said the hope is that this species, an effective carbon sequestrator, will thrive in a warm climate. And she and Kent hope more such species emerge in the near future.

“We are rolling out tree species as the opportunities present themselves,” Kent said.

Contact Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com

One thought on “Piedmont’s trees are the gifts that keep on giving, says city parks manager

  1. Piedmont is known for its urban public forest but should join neighboring communities of Oakland and Berkeley that project trees on private land with tree ordinances that prohibit the removal of or limit development around oaks and redwoods. Many of these trees in Piedmont will likely be felled with the ADU gold rush.

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