In February, the City of Syracuse Forestry Division released a draft Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP), which provides a roadmap to a healthy, safe, and expanding tree canopy for the City. The Plan contains definable and measurable 5-year and 20-year goals.

One major goal is to plant 70,000 new trees in 20 years. To meet that goal, the City will recruit owners of public and private property, including cemeteries, apartments, schools, churches and single-family homes, to plant most of those trees. “A critical part of the initiative is to build on and expand partnerships to implement what is proposed in the Plan,” says Syracuse City Arborist and NYSUFC Vice President Steve Harris.

Once complete, the new UFMP will be used to inform and update the City municipal tree ordinance, which was last modified in 1981.

January 2020:  Release Draft Master Plan

May 2020: Final Plan Adopted by Common Council

August 2020:  Draft Municipal Tree Ordinance Released

December 2020: Final Municipal Tree Ordinance Submitted to Common Council for adoption

Public comment sessions are underway throughout the City.

It’s been 20 years since the Labor Day Storm of 1998 that devastated Syracuse’s urban forest, toppling thousands of trees across the City. Despite efforts to bring back trees that were lost, Syracuse’s tree canopy cover (27%) remains relatively unchanged and below the average of 34% for cities east of the Mississippi River. ReLeaf Syracuse is an initiative to increase and sustain tree canopy in the City for the future.

Front-End Public Input 
In summer of 2018, led by the Syracuse Parks Department, Onondaga Earth Corps, and a steering committee representing community organizations, businesses, and government agencies, ReLeaf Syracuse conducted a public input process surveying over 1,000 people and holding eight (8) public meetings to gather input on how the City should manage its urban forest. CLICK HERE to read the Public Input Process Final Report and learn what people think about trees in Syracuse. The results informed the goals and strategies outlined in the UFMP.