In last week’s story, Report From Tree City, Salem Weekly highlighted The City of Salem’s policies on urban forestry management, asking why the city does not have certified aborists on staff to maintain parks and trees, as do Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene.
Kenny Larson, Communications and Community Engagement Manager for the City of Salem said last week the problem is that the City of Salem cannot afford the cost of hiring and maintaining certified arborists or recertifying their current arborists.
However, contacted this week for reactions to Salem Weekly’s story, Larson noted the City would now be encouraging current park staff to seek certificaton and that new hires will be certified arborists. He also noted that “Two of our arborists have 4-year degrees in forestry, which is considered a higher certification than ‘Certified Arborist.’ ”
Many community leaders interested in supporting best management practices and on-going and up-dated maintenance of what they believe are Salem’s underfunded and under-maintained city parks and urban forests have voiced concerns about certified arborists, as well as why the newly appointed Park’s Department Manager lacks horticulture experience, and why the City shifted the independent Parks and Recreation Department to a division within the Department of Public Works.
Gretchen Caranaby, Project Coordinator for Friends of Bush Gardens, Ellen Stevens, member of The South Central Association of Neighbors of Historic Preservation of Parks and Gardens Committee, and advocate Kathleen Moynahan are concerned about how current and future city policies that will directly impact the livability, beauty and management of Salem’s parks.
Last week Kenny Larson cited budget considerations for the lack of arborist certification, and Gretchen Caranaby agrees that the city budget for Parks and Recreation is at the heart of the issuue. She says the undermaintenance of Salem’s parks and trees has evolved “in part because we as tax payers are underfunding parks. The city’s primary focus is not on excellence in our parks but on managing limited dollars across a large park system. They aren’t going to change until the public tells them otherwise.”