Urban Forest Strike Team evaluating damaged trees in Mobile

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A group of certified arborists from across the Southeast are in Mobile to help the City of Mobile assess the trees damaged by Hurricane Sally.

The Urban Forest Strike Team was in Bienville Square Tuesday, tracking damage eligible for FEMA reimbursement and financial assistance.

“We’re here to make sure the high-risk trees are removed from the landscape and the more viable trees are kept and kind of worked with to try and keep them around,” said Seth Hawkins, the team leader and community forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The team is looking for threats to public safety from the trees damaged by Hurricane Sally.

“We’d like to save all of the trees, but the value of any individual tree pales in comparison to the value of a human life,” said Dale Dickens, urban forestry coordinator for Alabama.

The city contacted the strike team, for a neutral perspective. The team will help ensure the assessment and management of the trees around the city is based on certain standards.

The arborists who make up the team are from seven different states, and they will be doing a rapid assessment of the trees so they can look at as many as they can during their time here. This is funded through a grant.

“It’s still good to bring in neutral parties to assess it from purely an objective standpoint to see what trees truly are of risk. And what would need to come down and what would need simply maintenance for the trees,” said Peter Toler, Urban Forester with the City of Mobile.

Six trees in Bienville Square were lost during Hurricane Sally, and others were damaged. The city says any decision to remove additional damaged trees will be made based on the recommendations from the Urban Forest Strike Team’s assessment.

“We’re going to take a lot of extra care in Bienville Square because I know this is y’all’s prized square it’s beautiful,” said Hawkins.

They will be in town for a few days evaluating the trees on city property. They are working to help the city maintain and keep as many trees as possible while making sure the high-risk trees are removed.

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