Buffalo’s Cost-Share Grant Story and Advice

Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.
Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.

In 2011, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) successfully applied for a Round 10 Urban and Community Forestry Cost-Share Grant from NYS DEC.

Among other things, the funds went toward updates to the City of Buffalo’s tree inventory, condition assessment of the existing BOPC Tree Inventory and Management Plan, and priority maintenance to trees within the Buffalo Olmsted Park System.

The original tree inventory for Buffalo was performed in 2005 and updated in 2008, but by 2011, there was a need to include the 2,100 trees planted in the prior two years and a need to update the conditions report for the 11,500 trees in the database.

Grant-funded tree maintenance
Grant-funded tree maintenance

The maintenance component of this grant included microinjection protection against the Emerald Ash Borer and hazardous pruning to a specific area of the park system targeted for a large capital improvement project.

Funds were also applied toward a public education campaign: sessions were held to inform the public about EAB and its hazards as well as to give project updates regarding preventative measures the Conservancy took in its fight to preserve its ash trees.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the City of Buffalo are engaged in one of the nation’s premier public/private partnerships. Indeed the open channels of communication regarding capital improvement projects, grant opportunities, daily operations and park maintenance could serve as a model for relationships between public and private partnerships nationwide.

In the spirit of continuing and improving this partnership, both parties realized that increased communication and efficiency could be achieved through the merging of the BOPC tree inventory database with the City of Buffalo’s tree database program. Some of the cost-share grant monies went to that effort.

Shane Daley is the Tree Care Supervisor for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and is an ISA Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist. We asked him a few questions about the grant implementation, especially as regards the inventory update.

Did the implementation of the project go smoothly?
Shane Daley: For the most part, our inventory project went quite smoothly. By doing the tree inventory in-house, we were able to address any extremely hazardous tree situations immediately. Good communication between the person(s) performing the inventory and those that are maintaining the trees is very helpful. And the constant communication between me and the tree care crew was ideal.

Tree tags proved vulnerable to vandals and grey squirrels.
Tree tags proved vulnerable to vandals and grey squirrels.

What challenges had to be overcome?
SD: One challenge about updating the tree inventory was locating each specific tree and matching it to its existing file in a database of about 11,500 trees. Although each tree was tagged (with a numbered aluminum disc) when the original inventory was done in 2005, more than half were either stolen or gnawed to flakes by hungry grey squirrels! This was especially frustrating when there were a couple of trees roughly the same diameter at breast height and the same species grouped together.

What was one of the most gratifying things about getting this work done in Buffalo?
SD: The most gratifying aspect to completing the inventory was comparing it to our old inventory and realizing the accomplishments of our tree care crew in executing our tree management plan. The plan called for removing a lot of overly mature and hazardous trees and diversifying our tree population. We’ve been able to remove a high percentage of these trees and still have a greater than 15% growth in total tree basal area!

What advice would you give to others as they apply for these grants?
SD: First would be to apply for help with performing a tree inventory, because having a complete and accurate inventory is critical to managing community trees. Second, municipalities should be sure to involve their forester, arborist, or forestry crew in the grant writing process. These staff members have crucial knowledge that will help in determining the best allocation of time and funds, which will result in a more thorough and accurate grant proposal.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy in cooperation with the City of Buffalo are recipients of a Round 12 grant dedicated to the planting of ~ 200 new trees in the city this coming spring. ♦

About the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation to manage and operate an entire historic urban park system that consists of 850 acres of beautifully designed parks, parkways and circles.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is a not-for-profit, membership-based, community organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance, and maintain the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks and parkways in the Greater Buffalo area for current and future generations.

Sweetgum tree in Buffalo's inventory
Sweetgum tree in Buffalo’s inventory

More than 1 million people use Buffalo’s historic, award-winning Olmsted Park System annually for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. Buffalo’s Olmsted System includes the popular urban green spaces: Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Riverside Park and South Park as well as their adjoining parkways and circles which weave throughout the city of Buffalo.

The parks were designed by America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, more than 135 years ago. Olmsted designed parks in nearly every major city in the country. However, his work in Buffalo—the first park and parkway system designed and built in the U.S.—is considered his very best.

Basic maintenance of the parks has been greatly improved with universal respect and admiration for the work that the Conservancy has accomplished since the 2004 groundbreaking agreement with the City of Buffalo and Erie County. Since that time, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, now partnering with the city of Buffalo, has retained full responsibility for the management and maintenance of these green spaces which are listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

Park maintenance including turf care, litter pickup and trash removal, graffiti clean-up, tree, shrub and flower plantings and pruning are managed year round in a professional and competent manner by Olmsted staff and thousands of dedicated volunteers.

In 2008, the Conservancy adopted the Plan for the 21st Century, the comprehensive blueprint necessary to restore the parks to Olmsted’s original vision while expanding and completing the system as originally conceived: a “city within a park.” The plan calls for systematic reinvestment in the parks over time with 300 capital projects providing a new investment in Buffalo’s historic parks and parkways.

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