Ithaca’s Urban Forest Master Plan: A Template for Other Munis

Ithaca UFMPLooking for a template as you craft or revise your community’s urban forest master plan (UFMP)? Ithaca once again leads the way. The newly revised document includes a master plan, tree inventory data, and arboricultural guidelines.

To borrow from the Pittsburgh UFMP, “An Urban Forest Master Plan is a road map, providing detailed information, recommendations, and resources needed to effectively and proactively manage and grow a city’s tree canopy. More importantly it provides a shared vision for the future of the urban forest to inspire and engage stakeholders in the care and protection of trees.”

Ithaca Shade Tree Advisory Committee Chair Nina Bassuk says, “Ithaca’s newly revised UFMP has components that many municipalities might be interested in, including specs for soil, soil volume, and nursery stock. It also has our tree care guidelines for site selection, tree selection, tree protection during construction, tree removal, and even our solar panel policy.” There are meticulously rendered tree planting details for varied circumstances including planting with CU-Structural Soil.

Nina says, “I would also like to point folks to our Community Forestry website, where resources include several management plans and ordinances that might be of interest, and advice on creating master plans.”

The timeline of events leading to the current Ithaca Plan was as follows:

Frontier elm fall color
Frontier elm in fall in Ithaca by Nina Bassuk

*In 1987, Ithaca passed a tree protection ordinance which, among other things, codified the role of the Ithaca Shade Tree Advisory Committee. The Committee had existed before that but wasn’t written into law until 1987. Ithaca’s first complete street tree inventory was also completed in 1987.

*The first Ithaca Urban Forest Master Plan was created in 2006 by the Ithaca Shade Tree Advisory Committee based on inventory data and policies and goals that were developed by the Committee.

*In 2014 the Committee decided to overhaul the Master Plan and make it more comprehensive to include up-to-date inventory information, updated policies, and a comprehensive section on Arboricultural Guidelines and Specifications. The Master Plan was written by the Committee with the assistance of Bryan Denig, Nina’s graduate student who reorganized the sections and created graphic details that illuminated the written policies and recommended practices.

*This Master Plan was endorsed by all relevant City Boards and Committees by early 2015. Now the Ithaca Shade Tree Advisory Committee is in the process of adding the Arboricultural Guidelines to the City Site Plan Review legislation. Nina says, “We hope the Arboricultural Guidelines will get through the process for codification by the end of this year. In the meantime, the Master Plan is in effect as a guiding plan. We fully intend that it should be a living document and be updated as seen fit by the Shade Tree Advisory Committee.”

 

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: