The Village of Waunakee has planned an urban-forestry project which could take place throughout the village next year. It would involve updating the village’s tree inventory.

Community Services Director Sue McDade said the project is contingent on funding.

“We have submitted a grant to the DNR to help us fund the project,” McDade said. “The DNR’s public notice on who gets those grants is scheduled for mid-December. So we should know shortly whether or not we’re a recipient of that.”

McDade said the village-wide tree inventory dates back to 2009, when Wachtel Tree Science was hired to survey Waunakee and create an electronic database of all the trees in the village.

“We now have electronic software that shows us every tree that the village owns,” McDade said. “They literally stood next to every tree that the village owns and put into the software system what kind of tree it is, how tall it is, how big around it is and what condition it’s in.”

However, more than a decade has passed since that survey was conducted.

“We have a 10-year-old database,” McDade said. “And the system has no way of updating itself. We’ve done our very best to keep it up-to-date, but it’s really out-of-date. So we’ve written a grant to have them come back and redo that survey for us.”

The community-services director said the inventory has been a valuable asset to her department, whose members use its data to determine where to focus their efforts in the field.

“When we first did it,” McDade said, “we ran a report to show us every tree in the village that was below a particular (health) percentage. And then that’s the work we did that year. That’s how we knew which trees needed our attention, in the parks and in the streets.”

McDade said that is one of the reasons she’s eager to update the database.

“I’m super excited about the possibility of updating this tree inventory,” McDade said. “It has, in the last 10 years, just really proved to be invaluable. And technology has come further. So one of the things that we have included in our application is funding to buy mobile tablets.”

With such devices, public-works employees would be able to update the inventory themselves while out in the field – recording the work that has been performed on each tree in the village.

“While we did our best to keep things up-to-date,” McDade said, “we’re going to be way better at it. And it’s just really invaluable to be able to know electronically where to go next, rather than just counting on the staff members that are out in the fielding knowing trees need attention.”

The project proposed by the village would cost an estimated $57,484.

The Urban Forestry Grant would fund $25,000. The Village of Waunakee would then contribute the remaining $32,484.

McDade said she’ll use data acquired from the project to improve the village’s tree population.

“Trees are great for the environment and the community,” McDade said. “They bring so many different assets to our community, both aesthetically and health-wise…So I’m going to support planting trees anywhere in the village that we can make it work.”

The project could begin as early as January 2020.

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