By Lee Wardlaw
Undesirable tree trimming by MLGW has led the Rozelle-Annesdale Historic District and volunteers from other Midtown historic neighborhoods to combine efforts, working with the utility, to develop more tree-friendly standards for their tree trimming program. Organized by Stoy Bailey from Rozelle-Annesdale, this group of concerned neighbors met with the MLGW board on July 28, to begin the reform effort.
Since then this same group has met with the ongoing TreeCity USA Ad Hoc Committee for Memphis. This committee is in the process of proposing an all inclusive Memphis city ordinance that would provide for quality tree care including directional pruning for utility lines, annual training for employees, tree planting, and public education. The current MLGW line clearance policy would be included in this ordinance and it would adhere to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines. The ad hoc committee continues to develop this ordinance and is receiving input from the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, the Memphis Parks Department Horticulturalist, the Memphis Area Master Gardeners, Memphis City Beautiful, The TN Urban Forestry Council, MLGW, the Director of Shelby Farms Park and Park Friends, International Paper, the Memphis Botanic Gardens, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
To become a TreeCity USA, Memphis must meet four basic requirements: the city must have a tree board, a comprehensive forestry program, an annual Arbor Day proclamation and observance, and a tree care ordinance. A tree care ordinance encourages beautification, air cooling and purification, noise abatement, and property value enhancement. A community’s trees, or urban forest, are an asset that merits protection and management for the common good. At least thirty-five Tennessee towns and cities have already been designated a TreeCity. Should Memphis meet the requirement to receive the Tree Line USA Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation in addition to becoming a TreeCity USA, it would be eligible to receive grants to help finance the maintenance of its urban forest.
The Midtown volunteers working toward these goals represent almost all of the historic neighborhoods in the city. Stoy Bailey and I will continue to work with MLGW and other stakeholders to move this effort to an early and successful conclusion. If you would like to join these efforts, you may contact me at (901) 240-4344.
By Lee Wardlaw