What is a Street Tree?
"Public Trees" include trees growing within the public rights-of-way as well as trees growing in parks and on other public property. The right-of-way is a strip of land set aside for public uses such as, streets, alleys, sidewalks and utilities. Right-of-way widths vary from street to street. To determine wether or not a tree is growing within the right-of-way, contact the city's Urban Forestry Coordinator (phone 769-2266).
The owners of the private real property that abuts the rights-of way, also called the "Controllers", share with the city a responsibilty for the stewardship of the city's street trees.By maintaining those trees within the right-of-way adjacent to their property, the Controllers contribute to the beauty of the city's streets.
Why Are Street Trees Important?
Street trees are especially beneficial to communities. Because of their strategic location, they are important for their ability to trap and convert pollutants produced by vehicles and to muffle noise. They also mitigate the "heat island" effect of pavement, which absorbs, stores, and radiates thermal energy. Street trees prevent heat absorption by shading, and actually reduce air temperature by transpiring (evaporating water through the leaves).
How Many Street Trees Does Coeur d’Alene Have?
An inventory of trees growing within Coeur d’Alene’s rights-of-way in 1994 recorded information about 8,850 trees along approximately 150 miles of streets. The same inventory identified over 29,000 potential street-side planting spots. This means that only 23% of the potential planting spots were occupied, which is a 23% "stocking" of street trees in Coeur d’Alene.
In 2007 the street tree inventory showed 15,881 trees. Current numbers are up to 19,050 trees. This growth in numbers is mostly due to annexations and new developments. There are now over 240 miles of streets in Coeur d’Alene. The street tree "stocking" level is now approaching 37%.
How Many Street Trees Do We Need?
It is probably not possible, or desirable, to have 100% "stocking" of trees within the rights-of-way. There are places where large trees on private property leave little room for street trees; trees close to street intersections can sometimes cause traffic visibility problems; and we all want our vegetable gardens to get sunlight. However, doubling our street tree population would be quite possible and would benefit our community environment. The conservation group "American Forests" recommends an overall average of 40% tree cover within urban/suburban areas.
What Is The Most Common Street Tree?
2010 inventory records of trees within the rights-of-way show that six trees make up nearly half of the city’s street trees. They are:
- Norway Maple (13.5%)
- Ponderosa Pine (11.65%)
- Purpleleaf Flowering Plum (7%)
- Red Maple (5.45%)
- Ash (5.66%)
- Flowering Pear (4.37%)
There are over 80 trees on the approved street tree list that could be planted within the right-of-way. For both health and aesthetic reasons, the City’s Urban Forestry Committee is promoting more diversity in tree species for planting.
What Do I Do to Plant Trees Within the Right-of-Way?
A permit is needed to plant trees within the rights-of-way. The permit is free, and with it comes important information about trees that have good street-side habits, how to select the right tree for the right place, recommendations on spacing, and planting tips. You can receive a free planting permit by contacting the Parks Department or sending in a Permit Request.