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Lexington city leaders examine ways to expand tree canopy

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Stu Johnson
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Lexington city leaders are examining ways to increase the tree canopy around the bluegrass community. A Council committee was briefed on a tree covering study last week.

The report covered tree canopy growth from the 2012 study to 2020. Rachel Comte with Urban Canopy Works said coverage increased by 1700 acres. Lexington’s current tree canopy stands at 23% with a goal of 30%. Environmental Services Director

Jennifer Carey thinks the end goal is achievable.

“I think we certainly have the land area that is suitable and I think there is a good amount of ground swell within the community to get to that point,” said Carey.

Carey said there are stipulations for certain types of trees in the public right of way and along streets. But, on private property, Carey noted it’s the property owner’s choice and the city supports all types of trees.

An ad-hock tree canopy committee is looking into ways to spend $1.5 million to expand tree coverage. Diane Atchison serves on the ad hoc committee. She said moving up seven percentage points in tree canopy cover needs to be a priority.

“We want to hear from people in the districts too about what their priorities are just as she mentioned in the presentation. It’s just gonna give us a lot of good working knowledge that we didn’t have before,” said Atchison.

Atchison is referring to Rachel Comte with the Urban Canopy Works consultant group. Comte told committee members most of the canopy growth has been seen on private land. She said it’s not only about planting new trees but also about the care and preservation of existing trees. Comte says a tree canopy height is typically considered at 15 feet.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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