The City of Harrisonburg’s Urban Forestry Program has many different looks, from Urban Parks to street trees to stream buffers, greenways, to landscaped downtown areas. The City recognizes the value of green infrastructure to our community. Trees, Urban Forests, are more important than ever. They improve the air we breathe, reduce noise, filter the water, help control stormwater runoff, provide shade and habitat for a wide variety of living things, and beautify our urban landscapes.
To manage, and improve, all the City’s Urban Forests the Public Works Department utilizes the skills of our three certified arborists, two are also International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ). Why is this important? Since 2018 our team has been very busy with Ash trees, which is when the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetle made its way to Harrisonburg. Since 2018 550 ash trees have been removed due to the destruction caused by the EAB, with 750 more ash trees scheduled for removal by year-end 2021. Our TRAQ team has been proactive in treating healthier ash trees by participating in the Department of Forestry’s Cost Share Program. In 2018, 36 ash trees were treated in an attempt to preserve them. In 2020, 32 of those original 36 trees received a second treatment. The four untreated in the second round were damaged by storms. Reevaluation of tree health is completed annually.
Those are a lot of trees, what happened to them?
Harrisonburg’s Urban Forestry Management Plan
The City of Harrisonburg has a vision that its urban forest is safe, efficient to maintain, complements its development goals, delivers equitable benefits, and enhances the character and livability of the city. To accomplish goals to realize this vision, a comprehensive urban forest management plan is required. This plan was developed to assist Harrisonburg to better understanding its urban forest’s composition, structure, and tree maintenance needs as well as plan for both short-term and long-term resource allocation and develop risk management strategies. As of 2023, the City is half-way through the 10 year plan and has accomplished the planned planting of 50% diverse selection of trees to enhance Harrisonburg's tree canopy.
Urban Forestry & Urban Wood Program Resources
The City of Harrisonburg focuses on the care and management of trees and tree populations for the purpose of improving our urban environment. Efforts and city projects relating to urban forestry advocates the role of trees as a critical part of Harrisonburg's urban infrastructure. Participation with local related organizations and current efforts within the city include:
- Virginia Urban Wood Group
- Tree City USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation received for the 15th year!
- Participation with the Virginia Big Tree Program and Remarkable Trees Program
- Participation in projects with the Department of Forestry
- Blacks Run Clean Up Day Event and Green Scene
- Tree Canopy Studies
- Emerald Ash Borer Public Education and Ash Tree Management
- Harrisonburg Public Works and Stormwater Projects
- Care and Maintenance of Current Public Trees
- Virginia Urban Wood Group
- Harrisonburg Urban Wood Program Video "Out of the Ashes"
- Department of Forestry's Cost Share Program
- Harrisonburg's Public Surplus website
- Tree City USA
- Department of Forestry Story Map "Emerald Ash Borer Program"
- Department of Forestry EAB Cost Share Program
- Trees Virginia Urban Forest Council
- Virginia Big Tree Program and Remarkable Trees Program
Community Resources and Information on Tree Care
- Looking to plant trees in your yard? Check out the City's HCAP (Harrisonburg Conservation Assistance Program)! HCAP is a cost share reimbursement program aimed at assisting eligible landowners with their stormwater concerns. HCAP will pay 100% of your estimated cost up to $3,500 to plant new or replant lost trees! More information may be found on our HCAP webpage.
- Ways to Kill A Tree Poster (& How Not to Kill a Tree) [1.17MB]
- Find a Certified Arborist for a Tree Risk Assessment in Your Yard on the ISA website.
- Contact your Harrisonburg City Arborists for tree care recommendations by emailing Jeremy.Harold@harrisonburgva.gov
Feature Articles and Media Coverage
- Virginia Department of Forestry and Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation Urban Wood Video "Out of the Ashes"
- Virginia Department of Forestry "Trees with A Future"
- Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance "Local Ash Tree Finds New Home in HDR Office"
- WHSV "Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance gives ash trees new life"
- Virginia Department of Forestry Story Map "Emerald Ash Borer Program"
- Urban Trees in the Age of the Emerald Ash Borer and Felled Documentary Event
- The Breeze "Harrisonburg, VDOF begin ash borer treatment program"
For more information on Harrisonburg Public Works' urban wood utilization efforts contact Jeremy.Harold@HarrisonburgVA.gov.