Goucher stu­dents help Tow­son’s tree sur­vey

Al­liance is iden­ti­fy­ing and as­sess­ing trees down­town

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Rachael Pa­cella

In the 40 years Roger Gookin worked as a util­ity con­trac­tor for a lo­cal firm, he was taught to look at trees as ob­sta­cles — ob­jects stand­ing in the way of com­plet­ing a project.

Af­ter re­tir­ing in 2013 and later join­ing the Green Tow­son Al­liance, Gookin said he sees trees in a dif­fer­ent light.

“I see them as com­mu­nity as­sets,” he said.

Gookin is putting that thought into ac­tion, vol­un­teer­ing to col­lect data for the al­liance’s Down­town Tow­son Tree Sur­vey, which seeks to iden­tify, mea­sure, count and as­sess trees in down­town Tow­son.

The Green Tow­son Al­liance, a non­profit ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing and pro­mot­ing green space in Tow­son, launched the ef­fort to iden­tify trees that are un­healthy and need re­plant­ing — and where more are needed.

Wendy Ja­cobs, a found­ing mem­ber of the al­liance, reached out to nearby Goucher Col­lege for as­sis­tance, and got a pos­i­tive re­sponse from stu­dents and fac­ulty. This se­mes­ter, stu­dents from sev­eral Goucher cour­ses have taken field trips to down­town Tow­son to help con­duct the sur­vey.

Stu­dents come from a field ecol­ogy lab course taught by pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy and ecol­ogy Cyn­thia Kick­lighter, as well as two other cour­ses taught by en­vi­ron­men­tal science pro­fes­sor Ger­mán Mora. Goucher is pro­vid­ing the help free of charge.

The in­ven­tory in­cludes trees on pub­lic land in the down­town area, though Ja­cobs said some trees on pri­vate land have been sur­veyed when the al­liance gets per­mis- sion to en­ter the prop­erty.

Fig­ur­ing out which types of trees are grow­ing around Tow­son and as­sess­ing them will give the Green Tow­son Al­liance an idea of what can be done to make Tow­son’s stock of trees health­ier. The sur­vey will help the group de­ter­mine sick trees that need care and oth­ers that should be re­placed, Ja­cobs said.

Ja­cobs said the sur­vey will also give the group some needed base­line data; she cur­rently can’t es­ti­mate the num­ber of trees in the area.

Stu­dents and al­liance vol­un­teers use a smart­phone to mark GPS co­or­di­nates of each tree, mea­sure its cir­cum­fer­ence and es­ti­mate the height us­ing trigonom­e­try. Stu­dents were al­ready com­plet­ing sim­i­lar work for a field ecol­ogy lab course in the for­est on Goucher’s cam­pus, so it was easy to mod­ify that les­son to help with the Tow­son tree sur­vey, Kick­lighter said.

There are chal­lenges to study­ing trees in

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