Questions & Answers
Q. What is the Street Tree Maintenance Program?
Almost everyone would agree that the 45,100 street trees (As of 12/31/2013) lining our streets and boulevards comprise one of Fort Wayne's most cherished public assets. What many people don't know, however, is that the professional care and maintenance of these trees is the responsibility of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. A trained arborist and specialized tree crew have been a part of our operation for decades.
Q. Which trees in my neighborhood are maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department?
Generally speaking, those trees which are in the "street right of way" or between the street and the sidewalk are maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. This may include trees which you have purchased and planted yourself.
The main task involves the pruning of street trees, those trees that are planted between the street and the sidewalk, with the goal of making the trees as safe and healthy as possible.
Q. Why are trees trimmed differently?
During the pruning operation, trees are also checked for structural problems. Many times, these structural problems are only evident from a close inspection by the trimmer once he is up in the tree. Once discovered it is eliminated or corrected. If too extensive, the tree is marked for removal.
Trimming provides clearance for buses, garbage trucks, moving vans and other large vehicles that can damage the branches of trees.
Trimming opens up sidewalks for pedestrians, clears branches from rooftops, antennas, evergreens and traffic signs, and allows motorists a clear view of intersections.
We want to be sure that they live as long as possible in the best condition possible. Not only that, we have to be sure that they are safe.
Trees, shrubs and other vegetation on private property, alleys or on utility rights-of-ways are not the responsibility of the Forestry Division. This vegetation is primarily the responsibility of the property owner/s. AEP has responsibility for trimming trees that fall within their rights-of-ways.
Q. What if I am unhappy with the pruning?
All pruning is done by nationally accepted specifications. Since the Parks & Recreation Dept. has started pruning on a cyclic basis annual tree mortality has decreased from 1000 to 300. Also, liability and property damage caused by storms has been greatly reduced.
Q. My street tree needs to be pruned? Will you prune it?
All of the trees in the city are on a 8 year pruning cycle. The City’s street tree inventory, is pruned systematically by defined areas. In order for us (parks) to do this in an efficient and economical manner, we must defer individual pruning requests until your section falls into the pruning cycle. When your section is scheduled, the tree in front of the home will automatically be pruned.
Q. Can I prune a tree myself in the street right of way?
Yes, with the written consent of the City Arborist who can be reached at 427-6400. Currently written consent is not needed if only lower limbs are to be removed.
Q. I think the trees in my neighborhood look great now. Why do you have to prune these trees?
Our tree crews remove dead wood, crossed, split, hollow, and storm damaged limbs, shattered wood and sprout growth from the trees. This opens the crown of the tree and reduces the number of competing limbs.
Some types of trees cast a dense shadow. Trimming them allows sunlight to penetrate to lawns and shrubbery.
In some cases, removing lower branches increases night time security because street lights can cover a larger area.
During large wind storms, well trimmed trees are less likely to cause damage and, afterward, they sustain less damage. Proper pruning gives strength to the branches and allows wind to pass harmlessly through the thinned crown.
Following pruning, the tree starts growing new, stronger limbs. This new growth begins to fill in the empty spaces almost immediately.
Q. Sometimes it looks like healthy trees are removed. Why?
Low limbs do not rise higher as a tree gets older; instead they bend lower toward the ground as the tree matures. Branches may grow 16 to 28 inches a year depending on the weather and the type of tree. Our tree trimming may seem severe because:
1) Nationally accepted standards call for street trees to be "raised" 10 to 14 feet above the street for clearance purposes. (This is higher than trees in parks, golf courses and private property.)
2) The pruning cycle prevents crews from returning to each neighborhood to conduct routine pruning for several years.
Low limbs that will become a problem because of their location should be removed when trees are young. Remember that the appearance of a newly pruned tree is temporary and becomes less dramatic with each passing season and each subsequent trimming.
Trees lining our streets and shading our sidewalks must be pruned much differently than trees standing in our parks or a homeowner's lawn. Our pruning methods reflect the street tree's specialized purpose and growing environment, which is to provide cooling shade over hard surfaced streets and sidewalks.
1950's City workers pruning trees
Q.What is the new Tree Protection Policy and how does that impact me?
The Fort Wayne Parks Department, with the approval of the Board of Park Commissioners, has adopted and shall enforce a Tree Protection Policy for any and all trees under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.
Q. Can I plant a tree myself in the street right of way?
Yes, with the verbal consent of the City Arborist who can be reached at 427-6403, you can plant a tree in the street right of way. The Arborist will advise you of the tree species that are suitable and also which species are not to be planted.
There is also a plant a tree program administered each year. Check back in the spring of 2013 for the Application. Street Tree Selection Guide is available to assist you in determining the best possible tree for your location.
Do you have a program where I can plant a tree to celebrate an occasion or to honor a person or memorialize a family member?
Yes we do. Through this program you can have a tree planted to celebrate an occasion, or to honor a person or achievement. At the same time, our community will be enhanced with a beautiful, living tree for future generations to enjoy. This program includes: Planting a tree, permanent care of the tree, and a dedication marker. The Parks and Recreation Department’s Supervisor of Landscape will assist in choosing the type of tree and planting location. Shade trees such as Maples, Oaks, and Lindens or flowering trees such as Redbuds, Crabapples, Dogwoods and Magnolias or evergreens such as Pines, Spruce and Firs may be planted. The Supervisor of Landscape must approve the final selection and location. The permanent dedication marker is made of polished light granite. The markers are set into the earth so the surface is flush with the ground. The exposed surface is 6" x 12", with the inscription sandblasted into the granite.
For more information about this program, please call Lynda Heavrin at 427-6424. You can also check out the following link on How to Become a Donor . This link provides a variety of ways you can donate to the parks including trees.
Q. What if I'd like my street tree to be removed?
Following national industry guidelines, it is the Parks & Recreation Dept.’s policy NOT to remove or allow to be removed, any living tree or trees in the park strip. Trees that interfere with construction projects will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The arborist drives each street in the City from April to September and marks the dead trees for removal. The arborist determines if that tree meets the criteria for removal.
Q. They came and cut the tree but the stump is still there and needs to be removed. When will this be done?
Stumps are placed on a comprehensive list and are removed by contract usually once a year. Most trees are removed from October to January. After putting the stumps out for bid, the contract will be completed by the end of May.
Occasionally from February to September, the arborists will come across a dead tree in which they will remove. If this happens, they will bid out a new contract in September and the stump will be removed by the end of the year.
Q. What if the street tree roots are lifting up the sidewalk?
Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks adjacent to their property. However, with proper notice (3-5 working days) the Parks & Recreation Dept. will grind street tree roots found under the sidewalk AFTER the slab/s have been removed by the owner.
Q. What is the Comprehensive Tree Maintenance Program?
The Parks and Recreation Department's Comprehensive Tree Maintenance Program calls for each street tree in the city to be pruned according to a structured plan based on the condition of the trees in each neighborhood. A computerized inventory provides a record of each city tree, its location, value and condition. This inventory helps determine which neighborhoods are in the most need of pruning. In order to stay on schedule and avoid excess expenditure, the city does not respond to routine individual citizen requests for tree pruning and other services.
Q. What if a street tree limb or tree is down?
If you have an emergency situation regarding a street tree (which is usually between the sidewalk & the street), at your address, please call the City Arborist at (260) 427-6400 or city police department at (260) 427-1230. Emergency calls are answered promptly.
If it is a non-emergency, please call the City Arborist at (260) 427-6400 and we will schedule the pick up of that limb or tree. If the limb or tree is a privately owned tree the Parks Dept. will not come and get it. The Parks Dept. will pick up limbs within 1-3 days of the limbs or trees being reported to the department.
Q. I would like some firewood. Can I pick some up?
Sorry. At this time, this program is currently not available.
Q. What does "Tree City USA" mean?
The Fort Wayne Park and Recreation Department has held the distinct honor of being a Tree City USA for 22 years. To become a Tree City USA, your department must meet four standards. You must have a Tree Board or Department, a tree care ordinance, a Community Forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observation program and proclamation. This certification is from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Q. What do I do if a tree is on fire?
If a tree is on fire call 911.
When a tree is on fire, the fire extinguishes itself when the viable wood turns to charcoal. The charcoal insulates the rest of the wood and it may smolder for quite a while. However, it is still important to contact the 911 in case the fire worsens.
Q. What if I have questions about street trees? Is there someone I can e-mail?