Town of DeWitt Rolls Out Urban Forest Management Plan

DeWitt cover

Town of DeWitt Naturalist, Sustainability Coordinator, and Certified Arborist Christine Manchester is pleased to share this post about her Town’s new Urban Forest Management Plan.

In 2014, the Town of DeWitt received notification from the NYSDEC that our grant application to fund the creation of an urban forest management plan had been accepted. This was great news—but we quickly learned that writing the grant was the easiest part of the project. We thought that we were ready for a document that spelled out all the details, specifications, and standards. We wanted a document that would tell us specifically what we needed to do. However, we had some work of our own to do before engaging a consultant in writing the Plan.

A quick overview wearing an “Urban Forestry” lens might be helpful to understand our confusion. The Town Code had been revised in 2012 to include a Tree Chapter. This Code chapter established a very basic framework in regards to planting, pruning, and removing trees on Town property and referenced the DeWitt Urban Forestry Management Plan, which had not yet been created. Additionally, the Town Code chapter on trees clearly indicates necessary items that shall be included in the UFMP, like species selection, planting, pruning standard, care, and removal standards. However, in none of our guiding documents was there any justification for why we should manage trees.

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Getting to Know Andy Pleninger


Andy PleningerCan you tell us about your childhood influences?
Andy Pleninger: I grew up in a neighborhood in Rochester, NY with mature black oaks and numerous diverse niche ecosystems ideal for play and exploration. Scouting took me to Camp Massaweppie in the Adirondacks, and camping trips with the family were exciting adventures. In the 1970s gypsy moth arrived and gorged on the oaks in my neighborhood. I also watched in awe as a tree surgeon climbed and worked on one of those giant neighborhood oaks. These events and experiences sparked and fostered my interest in the environment.

What has been your educational and career trajectory? 
AP: My educational and career trajectories are intertwined. My interests and work and life experiences guided me to my career in urban forestry. Right out of high school I got a job with a tree service and enrolled at the local community college in pre-forestry studies. After my two years of studies I moved to Colorado with the intention of finishing a BS in forestry.

I worked in commercial landscaping and tree work and explored and pursued all the adventures the Rocky Mountains could offer. One of my jobs working as a tree surgeon had me pruning street trees for the City of Fort Collins, where I met the city forester. This was my introduction to urban forestry and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I returned to my studies at Colorado State University and completed a BS concentrating in urban forestry.

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