Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights to utilize GIS mapping to conduct comprehensive inventory of city’s tree canopy

What’s happening: It was just this past April when the City of Sterling Heights was celebrating its 37th consecutive Tree City USA Award from the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service, a recognition of the city’s ongoing efforts to improve and maintain a healthy tree population. Not one to rest on their laurels, Sterling Heights is now launching a massive tree inventory project that will expand on a 2021 pilot program. A 38th consecutive Tree City USA Award is all but guaranteed.

What’s planned: Urban forestry consulting firm Davey Resource Group Inc. has been tapped by the city to conduct a comprehensive inventory and assessment of an estimated 37,500 trees on public streets and in City parks. The partnership expands on an initiative first launched as a pilot program in 2021. The comprehensive inventory will help the city understand its current tree population, prioritize tree maintenance, and ensure a healthy and sustainable urban forest.

Why it’s important: “An inventory is an important step in strengthening a proactive approach to tree maintenance,” says Lee Mueller, a forestry specialist supporting the City’s inventory project. “We will identify any preliminary pruning or removal needs in addition to providing detailed computer mapping of all the trees to aid the City in the future planting, planning, and management of Sterling Heights’ urban forest resources.”

How they’ll do it: Davey’s professional arborists will be canvassing the city this fall and winter. Outfitted with handheld computers, the arborists will use GIS (Geographic Information System) to mark the location and record specific details — species, size, and health — of each tree. That information will then be used by the city to inform future tree planting and maintenance programs. Michael Moore, Public Works Director for the city, told us this past April that the city could plant as many as 2,000 new trees over the next couple of years.

[Related: Read “Sterling Heights makes way for more butterflies and more trees (and public art, too)” on Metromode.]

What they’re saying: “Sterling Heights is committed to creating a sustainable community,” says Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor. “Trees are a huge part of that commitment, and we are invested in making sure Sterling Heights remains a designated Arbor Day Foundation ‘Tree City USA’ for years to come.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.