Funding for Trees
This afternoon, the Council's Health, Environment and Community Engagement committee received a very informative presentation from the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission. Their recommendations for the City and Park Board are on the second to last page, and include replacing ash trees as quickly as possible, increasing funding for the CityTrees program, creating a new "Tree Preservation Coordinator" in the Park Board, and better caring for young trees. I want to thank the Tree Commission for consistently giving one of the best reports of any of our many City boards and commissions - it's thoughtful and pragmatic, but still communicates the urgency of the needs of our urban forest.
The committee directed the Commission to come back to us in June with recommendations for how to best spend $443,140.34 that is currently in the City’s Capital Improvement Program for "City Property Reforestation." These dollars are currently in the Property Services budget, but that's not really the right place for them. There isn't enough demand for trees on the land around City buildings (which is what Property Services deals with), but there is incredible need for trees in other places: boulevards, parks, and private property. We are about to face the loss of tens of thousands of ash trees in Minneapolis, so it is a critical time for us to plant as many new trees as possible. I look forward to hearing the Commission's recommendations for these dollars and getting this funding out where it can make a difference.
I also want to thank Council Member Bender for her offer to connect the Tree Advisory Commission to the Minneapolis Planning Commission. This is a great idea, and we should make it happen.