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Over 170 Trees Removed, 500 Pruned Since Fall Storm

Of the trees pruned, 375 had potentially dangerous hanging limbs, according to the Shade Tree Management Board.

They're not quite employees, but Madison's trees still work for the borough everyday, according to Michael Kopas.

The trees purify and cool the air, reduce stormwater runoff, increase property values, beautify beighborhoods and improve human health and well-being, said Kopas, chair of the Shade Tree Management Board, which is responsible for planting and caring for trees along borough roads and in public spaces.

In October, hundreds of trees in the board's care that weighed down the trees while they still had their leaves.

Penny Garman, a longtime member of the board, said the storm inflicted the worst damage to Madison's trees seen in decades.

"In my 35 years here, I have not seen such devastation to the trees," she said.

Since the storm, more than 500 of those trees have been pruned and more than 170 trees have been removed, according to a letter from the Shade Tree Management Board providing an update on cleanup efforts 10 months after the storm.

At least 90 percent of the work was done on trees that were damaged in the October storm, Garman said.

Madison already has removed about 50 more trees in 2012 than the average removed each year from 2004 to 2011, with five more months to go in the year.

Of the trees that were pruned, 130 were pruned or elevated to promote the health of the trees, while 375 were pruned because they had "hangers" that posed a potential hazard.

"A hanger is defined as a broken limb within a tree canopy that has not yet fallen," Garman said. "The 375 trees all had at least one hanger and usually more than one, some in very dangerous locations like over the sidewalk or road."

Now, the most dangerous hangers have been removed and the most damaged trees have been pruned, but the board sill is working to address a number of low limbs over roads and sidewalks, tackling the streets with the most low-hanging branches first.

The trees along Woodland Road, Colonial Way and Commuter Parking Lot 3 were pruned and work on Niles Avenue will begin soon, the letter said.

With a continued focus on pruning and removal, the board won't be budgeting as much money for planting new trees this year, but nonprofit groups are stepping up to help.

Kopas said borough administration and the Department of Public Works have been "tremendous in assisting in our efforts in restoring the trees to a safe condition."

"In addition, with the vast majority of the STMB budget being spent on tree repair and pruning, groups like the Friends of Madison Shade Trees, have focused their efforts on the planting of new shade trees where ones had to be removed," he said. "The shade tree canopy and street trees is part of what makes Madison so special. The volunteers who help care for them do a tremendous job."

According to the letter, fundraising by the Friends of Madison Shade Trees in partnership with the Garden Club of Madison, led to another 16 pear trees being planted along Main Street, and this fall the Friends will sponsor the purchase and planting of 26 new trees.

"Both planting endeavors will contribute greatly to restoring the trees lost to the storm while continuing to preserve and enhance our tree lined streets," the letter said.

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