Tree Press Release – April 1, 2016

The City of Dahlonega is committed to growing a healthy and safe city center, while maintaining an extensive and diverse tree canopy for residents and visitors to enjoy. Efforts from City staff and many community volunteers have earned the City of Dahlonega the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation since 2001. The City is one of only a few its size to have the services of a Certified Arborist on staff.

Tree selection and placement are the two most important decisions one makes when landscaping an area. Urban tree planting is more complicated than planting in a rural area. In an urban area, the trees and cities grow simultaneously, creating pressure on each other for the limited space. At the time of a planting, it is often unknown the amount of space a root system may need 75 years later in order to remain healthy.

Tree species that have surface roots, are structurally weak or tend to develop internal cavities should not be chosen for high pedestrian or vehicular traffic areas. These common problems are intensified with age as urban trees often lack oxygen, water and nutrients. The City of Dahlonega regularly coordinates with experts to assess the healthiness of community trees because an unhealthy tree creates a liability for public or private spaces. As the health of a City-owned tree declines, or private and/or public property is damaged, the City has a responsibility to look for replacement options and coordinates with the Georgia Forestry Commission’s certified arborists for recommendations on how to proceed.

The first option considered was re-laying and slightly elevating the sidewalk to eliminate the buckling caused by roots. Elevating was determined to be a temporary fix only because additional oxygen and water will only promote further root growth, which risks compromising the adjacent building. Additionally, as the roots continued to grow the buckling sidewalks would return, creating the same accessibility concerns that currently exist. The City is working to better meet ADA standards and accessible design throughout the entire community. The sidewalk at the Fudge factory is a single part of a larger sidewalk repair and replacement plan.

The second option of severing and removing the large roots which are causing the buckling would destabilize the tree, accelerate its decline, and increase risk for spontaneously falling under high wind conditions. This option would require duplicated work and expense.

The third option considered was removing the tree. The City of Dahlonega makes efforts to strategically plant the right tree, in the right location at the right time. There is a precedence for successfully replacing trees, as demonstrated most recently by the planting of the oaks on the north side of the square. The end of a tree’s lifespan can be viewed as a positive opportunity to plant a tree that is more appropriate for the space. An oak or elm tree are great options for an urban environment. Both species have beautiful color, large canopies and more appropriate size and root space needs.

After consideration of all three options, the third option of removing and replacing the tree was presented to Council by staff as the preferred option and most permeant solution.

Pecan Tree Facts:
• Health and age assessed by local GA State Forester and Senior State Forester.
• Approximately 75 years old, structurally weak and may contain cavities.
• Root system pushing up sidewalk searching for oxygen, water and nutrients.
• Expected continual decline of health over the next 12 – 18 months resulting in limb dropping.

Replacement Tree Facts:
• The existing tree will be professionally removed.
• Stump and roots will be ground and/or removed to allow proper reconstruction of the sidewalk and planter.
• The replacement tree will be a species suited to the location and will be planted at an appropriate time for the species. This may mean temporary planting of the planter with annuals through the summer.