By: Mariel Carbone | Eyewitness News
December 5, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee City Commission voted Wednesday to approve the Urban Forest Master Plan.
The commission also voted to consider creating a tree commission to help implement the plan.
Work on the plan began in October 2017, which takes a deep dive into the status of the city's current coverage. According to the report, Tallahassee has 55 percent tree coverage. Those trees provide the city with more than $15 million in benefits annually.
Mindy Mohrman, the city's urban forester, said the plan also highlights the challenges the community faces.
"Quantity we're good. Quality, we could use improvement," said Mohrman.
The plan lays out three main goals including improving canopy coverage, maintaining canopy coverage and engaging the community at large. Each of those overarching goals are also broken down to include initiatives like evaluating current tree regulations and updating them if necessary, specifically when it comes to development.
"It's up to us now to implement. The plan gives us a guide. It gives us a road map. Now, we have to implement those strategies," said Mohrman.
Tree advocate Ann Bidlingmaier said the plan is a good start, and commended the work that went into it. However, she said it is more of a tree survey and needs to do more to help on the enforcement side.
"It doesn't do anything to preserve trees. And, right in back of me we can see an oak grove that was demolished eight months ago and it's still vacant," said Bidlingmaier. "I think this is a good starting point, but I would hope we move into protecting the trees that we've counted.
Because it doesn't do us any good to count the trees unless we protect them."
Still Mohrman said the plan isn't mean to be a hard policy, but be a guide for policy.
"This plan gives us information that we can make decisions on," she said.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson said it is the most comprehensive tree plan he's seen, and emphasized the amount of public input included.
The plan is intended to be a long term guide, spanning 20 years.