Trivia and tips from the Morgantown Tree Board.

Here’s some local insider knowledge: The most common tree species on city property is the American sycamore, at 130 of the nearly 2,000 trees the city cares for. The second most common is the silver maple, at 114—and there are more than 100 species in all.

This is just a small part of what you can learn by visiting the Morgantown Tree Plotter by Plan-It Geo, accessible from the Morgantown Tree Board’s web page. Every tree is mapped with notes about its species, size, and health. Its air quality, water quality, and other benefits are calculated, too, reminding us that every tree provides important environmental services.

The Tree Board looks after the city’s trees, says its chairman, Dave Barnett. The volunteer board of tree professionals and tree enthusiasts doesn’t do the work directly, but advises the city on matters like what types of trees to plant in a new parking lot or which city trees need attention.

The board also advises residents on how to plant and care for trees. Here are some tips Barnett shared:

  • Choose the right tree for the right spot. Oaks are beautiful, but they need a lot of space. The Tree Board’s web page includes a list of recommended tree and shrub species.
  • Any time you plant, call Miss Utility first at 8-1-1 to make sure you’re not digging over a utility line. It’s the law.
  • Don’t plant a tree and forget it—the best time to do structural pruning is when a tree is young. If a branch is going to rub or cross another, take it off before it’s gotten thick and removing it leaves a big wound that exposes the tree to disease.

Regular inspection and maintenance will ensure your trees remain sound and do not become hazardous. Any time you have tree work other than removal done, ensure proper care by choosing a company that has a certified arborist on staff.

The most important tip, Barnett says: Never top a tree. Topping undermines a tree’s long-term health in many ways.

The Tree Board meets the fourth Monday of every month at City Hall, 389 Spruce Street. To be considered for service on the Tree Board, contact the city council person from your ward.

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Pam Kasey
Written by Pam Kasey
Pam Kasey has traveled, brewed, farmed, counseled, and renovated, but most loves to write. She has degrees in economics from the University of Chicago and in journalism from West Virginia University. She loves celebrating Morgantown and West Virginia as executive editor at New South Media.