The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District plans to start forest management this summer at Dwyer Memorial Park in Little York with a $35,000 state grant.
The grant, announced Friday — Arbor Day — by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, is part of $2.6 million for 64 projects across the state.
“Trees are vital to our community life, public health and environment,” Hochul said. “New York state is proud to celebrate Arbor Day by awarding grants to 26 outstanding projects in our communities across the state to inventory, plant and maintain trees.”
The funding will allow the county to manage Dwyer Park in a way that keeps trees healthy for the county’s enjoyment and use by trimming, pruning, identifying disease, planting new trees and removing harmful trees, said Amanda Barber, district manager for the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“It’s a great opportunity to do forest management on a publicly owned resource,” Barber said.
The Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District has done some management and is ready for inventory, Barber said. Because of the limited funding, the district will start by inventorying the trees along trails and roads in the 50-acre park.
“The growing season extends over 30, 40, 50, 60 or more years,” Barber said. “We are making sure the park, as an urban forest, is meeting standards, not just for tree production but as a community forest in an urbanized area with people and regular use.”
The funding will also be used to create a workshop on proper pruning and forest management for public officials and park managers, Barber said.
“We want to make sure not only the Department of Public Works folks, who will be doing management of the park, but so other public officials who do forest management have the opportunity to learn about proper pruning,” Barber said.
The workshop sparked interest from Preble town Highway Superintendent Jeffrey Griswold and encouraged him to write a letter of support on the district’s behalf, encouraging the grant’s approval.
Griswold said he wants to use the training to teach his people how to maintain forests and trees and apply it to other parts of the community.
“The town of Preble has roughly 25 centerline miles, so 50 miles of roadside of which some is just farmland but a lot of it is lined with trees,” Griswold said. “Part of the component was that the main focus was on Dwyer Park but one of the components was going to be for some training.”
Griswold has worked for the town for 22 years and has never been offered a professional class at the town level for forest management, he said. Preble will hire outside arborists for tree removal and trimming.
“The class would instruct our people to identify problems and pruning and how to identify trees to keep roadside trees healthier,” Griswold said.