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Roots & sidewalks

January 17, 2021

first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaGrowing trees in parking lots and around sidewalks can be tricky.Developers save trees only to have the roots break up sidewalks afew years later. A University of Georgia training program hasbeen set up to save the trees and the sidewalks.The UGA Extension Service is using a $20,000 Georgia UrbanForestry Council grant to train county extension agents inGeorgia’s urban counties.”This grant has allowed us to develop a train-the-trainer programto deliver urban forestry educational material,” said SheldonHammond, the Northwest Extension District program developmentcoordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences. Agents will train in their countiesThe train-the-trainer program is designed to teach county agents,who then train people in their counties. The program was set upthrough the UGA Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture in Griffin,Ga.”Our goal is to train 40 urban county agents,” Hammond said.”This will lead to 400 Master Gardener volunteers being trainedwith advanced tree education that they can take to the public.”Urban county agents include those in Atlanta, Athens, Savannah,Valdosta, Macon, LaGrange, Augusta and other urban areasstatewide.Hammond said these county agents are answering more and morequestions related to urban forestry.”They help people manage green space in urban areas, deal withtrees in construction areas and asphalt parking lots,” he said.”Managing trees in urban environments is a whole new dynamic.”Urban county agents also train homeowners on how to properly growand maintain trees in urban settings. Correcting poor practicesHammond hopes the statewide urban forestry training will helpdispel some misunderstandings.”There’s a lot of misinformation out there, especially in thearea of pruning,” he said. “People are using truly poor pruningpractices, and the trees are suffering as a result.”Many people don’t understand the nature of a tree’s root system,Hammond said.”We constantly see utility lines run 3 to 4 feet from a tree,” hesaid. “People think trees have really deep root systems.Actually, they have really shallow root systems. When a tree’sroots grow and stretch, they often bust through concrete andasphalt along the way.”Hammond said cutting the roots isn’t the solution. This kills thetree and creates a bigger problem.”You don’t see these problems in production forestry,” he said.”We’re hoping this training program will serve as a startingpoint for spreading information and educating people on urbanforestry.”center_img After-the-fact help”Management techniques for trees are different in urban areas,”Hammond said. “Unfortunately, a lot of our agents deal withafter-the-fact management issues. They get more fertilization,health and water questions than selection questions.”Hammond said many urban forestry questions come from parks andrecreation crews, city government maintenance departments andhome developers.The county agents were trained in February. They are nowbeginning to train people in their counties. The grant fundsprovided each agent $300 worth of educational materials, such asreference books and CDs.The UGA Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture is seeking grantfunds now to present similar training programs on turf andlandscape management and water quality and quantity.last_img

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