Tree Planning Process Seeks Comments through Survey, Forums

Works is well under way on developing Bedford’s community forest master plan.

Ashley McElhinney, a certified arborist with Davey Resource Group, said on Monday that representatives of the firm have already met three times with the seven-member Tree Master Plan Committee. 

The Select Board approved a $133,350 professional services agreement with Davey to coordinate the plan in March. The committee’s scope is confined to trees on public land. 

So far, McElhinney said, it is apparent to her that “Bedford community really does value their trees.”

A big part of the process is community engagement, McElhinney said, and the committee is encouraging residents to complete a survey. The questions can be accessed through the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/YQ2G7rsHWf.

Also scheduled are two 7 p.m. community forums next week: Tuesday, June 4 in the Reed Room of Town Hall and Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m. on Zoom, accessible via the agenda, https://www.bedfordma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4017/TMPAHC-Agenda-2024-06-06-PDF.

“We’d love to get the word out to encourage all members of the community to share their thoughts. Learning more about values, concerns, and ideas related to the town’s trees will help us to create recommendations and strategies that best serve the whole Bedford community,” McElhinney said. 

The survey will remain live on the town website through the end of July.

Davey Resource Group is a national environmental and horticultural consulting firm, based in Ohio. The regional office is in Shrewsbury.

McElhinney acknowledged that “community engagement” can be challenging during the summer, but emphasized its centrality to the development process “to really inform different priorities specific to Bedford, so we can identify what the community wants.”

Besides input from residents and others, the master plan preparation will focus on a public tree inventory and urban forest maintenance operations. 

“I think of it as an equation: inventory analysis plus community engagement plus an operations review equals goals, recommendations, and action items,” McElhinney said.

The inventory will supplement existing data, not only with field staff identifying individual trees on the ground but also through use of technology. The Department of Public Works’ recent pavement management survey recorded a swath of three-dimensional data of the public right-of-way, McElhinney noted. 

Consultants will be working with DPW Director David Manugian and Nick Pouliot, grounds manager and tree warden, to integrate the details of tree maintenance into the report. McElhinney said she and project manager Moriah Day have toured locations with staff, and are in touch with Manugian regularly.

“We are identifying stakeholders to interview – town departments, the Arbor Resources Committee, others who have been involved,” she continued. “We’re also digging into the bylaws and other town plans to get them to align” with the draft master plan.

“We will have goals, recommendations, and action items,” McElhinney said, with a first draft sometime in the fall and the final draft by the end of the year. 

The forestry management plan ideally will serve as a town planning document if adopted by the Select Board. 

Members of the Tree Master Plan Committee are Dan Churella from the Arbor Resources Committee, Karen Kalil-Brown of the Historic District Commission, Deb Edinger of the Conservation Commission, Amy Lloyd of the Planning Board, Bopha Malone of the Select Board, John McClain, and Randi Currier. Manugian is an ex-officio member who also serves as chair.

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Molly L Haskell, Chair, BARC
June 6, 2024 1:01 pm

Please consider participation at tonight’s Zoom forum. The Ad Hoc Tree Committee is intended to develop a Tree Master Plan that serves all of Bedford. The Committee is chaired and driven by David Manugian, Director of the Department of Public Works. The members are drawn from the Select Board, the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, the Historic District Commission, and Arbor Resources. Two at large members of the community also serve, one of whom serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee. Let’s hear your voice!

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