The Village of Lancaster's tree population is thinning and in a compromised state.
More than 60 percent of the village's trees were damaged in the October 2006 surprise ice storm.
More than 10 years later, that storm left many trees unable to grow properly, according to village officials. "We've had to trim and take down so many trees because the ice took so many leaves off the trees," said George Miller, village public works crew chief.
Other village trees are being decimated by a pesky ant infestation.
Compounding those two problems is the devastation caused by the ash borer beetle. In the past year, village crews have had to remove more than 150 trees damaged by ash borers.
Now the village is pushing for what's believed to be its first tree inventory to take stock of what is left, determine what is healthy, what species would work best for replanting and where the best locations would be.
"We want a certified arborist to come in to protect our investment by making the best decisions for placement, and the kind of species and where they will best thrive," Village Trustee Dawn Robinson said Sunday. "What we don't want to see is trees put in a place where there is heavy salting, and they aren't going to survive as good. We want to make sure there is proper placement for longevity."
Village officials do not yet know the cost of a certified arborist. It's also unknown how many trees are left in the village.
Village leaders are asking the public to help by writing letters of support for a tree inventory and a tree plan that could be funded through a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation's urban forestry grant program.
"If you drive through the village, you'll see some areas that there's quite a bit of space between trees," Miller said.
Miller said crews are finding ants have infested many silver maples. The village had to remove many of those maples along Park Boulevard. About a dozen trees that were removed were probably 70-feet tall, he said. The village, along with New York State Electric & Gas, also recently removed 26 trees that were interfering with electrical wires throughout the village.
"A tree crew every day is trimming and taking down trees. It's an all-year project," Miller said. "We've been replacing some as we go, but we need a more accurate count of where our trees stand. That's why we're going after this grant."
Residents can bring letters directly to the Municipal Building at 5423 Broadway, or e-mail their concerns to Robinson at DRobinson@lancastervillage.org or to Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org by mid-February in time for the village to submit its grant application by the March 1 deadline.