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WHAT WE KNOW: Augustana College's Upper Mississippi Center conducted a tree assessment project in Geneseo.

WHAT'S NEW: The center's Dr. Michael Reisner presented the results of the tree assessment to the city council Tuesday.

Some findings:

  • Geneseo has 2,369 city-owned trees representing 73 species in either the rights-of-way, the parks or the cemeteries.
  • 46 species are native and 27 are non-native.
  • 38.7% of the tree canopy are species from the maple genus.
  • Maples make up 95% of the tree species in rights-of-way.
  • The 10 most abundant trees are sugar maple, red maple, silver maple, white spruce, Norway maple, green ash, pin oak, Douglas fir, burr oak and eastern red cedar.
  • 97% are older trees; 3% are younger saplings.
  • There are 126 ash trees with 84% in fair to poor condition unless this summer's clearing may have reduced that number to fewer than 100.

They are recommending no more than 20% of the canopy be comprised of species from any one genus and point out that maples, oaks and pines in Geneseo all exceed that threshold.

Recommendations include enacting a cost-share program with willing landowners to replace right-of-way trees in such a way as to increase diversity of species.

The good news is that Geneseo has 30% forest cover, and trees are healthy for the most part. Reisner said there is 75% no visible canopy die-off, or less than 10%. "Measuring the health of trees, they're actually really good," he said.

The council approved spending $3,500 this coming school year with Augustana College students for a further tree project to identify best practices for a cost-share program to enhance the urban forest as well as a business social media project and a stormwater project.

WHAT'S NEXT: Resident Kathy Allen talked to the council again about the downsides of the legalization of cannabis in Illinois, pointing out that as with alcohol, "What makes you think we can keep marijuana out of the hands of children?" The Rev. Steve Palm asked to be informed when the council will take up any requests from businesses interested in selling marijuana, saying he didn't want to prematurely stifle discussion or present himself as the lone spokesman for arguments that are more universally shared.

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