Eye on the Environment: Urban forester's winter work will yield green in spring for Hilliard

Pete Marsh
Guest columnist

When you talk about trees in December, most people think of the kind that get cut down and are covered with ornaments and strings of lights, with a gold star on top.

For Hilliard city forester Andy Beare, though, this is tree-planting season.

Hilliard City Council member Pete Marsh is the council liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.

Each year, the city plants new trees as part of the Street and Public Land Tree Replacement Program.

Most of these trees are replacements for ones that were removed the year before because they were dead, damaged or causing damage to public sidewalks.

Beginning late this fall and extending into the spring, the city of Hilliard will see an additional 435 trees going into the ground.

"Planting this time of year gives us the best survivability rate," Beare said. "This gives the tree the most time to settle in and establish new roots before the heat and dryness of summer.”

Beare, who was hired in early 2020 after the Shade Tree Commission recommended to Hilliard City Council that the city would benefit from a full-time forester, has an important job in managing our piece of the urban forest.

In addition to overseeing the tree-replacement program, Beare spends hours meeting with homeowners about an array of tree-related issues. He evaluates tree health, identifies pest and disease issues and determines when tree-root damage necessitates the removal of certain trees. He is establishing a forestry department that will perform tree removals and tree pruning, and, perhaps at some point down the road, the department will plant trees rather than contracting a third-party vendor.

“With a forestry department we have quick response for service requests, have crews on hand for storm damage cleanup and can get the best benefits out of our urban forest,” Beare said. "The city has invested a large amount of money in their trees, and it is important to manage them properly.”

With that in mind, one objective in the next couple of years is to update and modernize the city’s street-tree inventory. This will allow data to be stored on every single tree that the city plants, including the species, date of planting and any issues or maintenance performed on it. This information will help Beare and the Shade Tree Commission to constantly improve decisions about what types of trees perform the best in any given circumstance.

Although tree limbs are bare and the landscape is bleak right now, know there is work being done to make sure that next spring is the greenest one yet in Hilliard.

Hilliard City Council member Pete Marsh is the council liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.