ITHACA,N.Y. — The staff responsible for overseeing the thousands of trees in the city of Ithaca got a boost at Ithaca City Hall Tuesday night.

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City Forester Jeanne Grace expressed relief that the Ithaca Common Council’s decision to approve funding for a Forestry Technician position.

The seasonal position was approved for $22,000, according to Common Council member Seph Murtagh. The job will entail assisting Grace in working directly with all of the trees on public property in the city.

Grace said that the City of Ithaca has approximately 13,000 street trees in the city right-of-way alone. That does not include the greenery in local parks, cemeteries and natural areas like nature trails.

Under Ithaca’s urban forestry program, each tree in the city is visited at least once every four years for visual inspection, measurement and maintenance. This program was initiated to keep the city looking its best, the trees as healthy as possible and the responsibility of maintenance from city residents.

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But the position of Forestry Technician has gone unfunded for the past five years, leaving Grace with the responsibility of maintaining all of the trees in Ithaca’s public property.

Grace explained that as her job responsibilities continue to grow, it became impossible for her to uphold the high standards Ithaca has set for its urban forestry program. Last week, she addressed her concerns over the vacancy with the Common Council.

“The level of service given to green infrastructure will decrease without a Forestry Technician. Without an up to date inventory, it will no longer be a self-driven program and will more heavily rely on residents,” Grace said.

Grace said that with the Forestry Technician position filled, Ithaca’s trees will be more beautiful and residents’ greenery problems will be addressed more efficiently.

“If someone calls in to the Parks and Forestry department about, say, a tree blocking their driveway, without a Forestry Technician their request could end up on a waiting list. With the position filled, residents will get a quicker response time.”

According to the City of Ithaca’s website, Ithaca has been a “Tree City USA” for 25 consecutive years and has received 14 National Arbor Day Foundation Growth Awards. Ithaca has also earned two New York Conference of Mayors Local Government Achievement Awards for its urban forestry program.

Grace said that Ithaca has a progressive program that even bigger cities have yet to implement. She said she is proud of the urban forestry program that Ithaca has and was glad to hear the Forestry Technician position was approved.

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