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Common Council Considers Bill to Return Forestry Functions to the City

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A city lawmaker wants Erie County to transfer back the Division of Forestry to Buffalo's Department of Public Works.

The city's forestry division was turned over to Erie County last year under the city-county parks merger. But South District Common Council Member Jeffrey Conrad says with 70 dead trees in just his district alone, the city needs to consider his proposed transfer. He says problem trees are not being dealt with in a timely manner. Conrad says since the merger, the city has received 1,800 complaint calls about trees.

"My thought is, by bringing the forestry department back, the city of Buffalo would have some control and so we can handle our priorities," Conrad said. "I don't think our priorities are being met with the forest department under the county. I don't know what they are doing."

Conrad says without removal or maintenance of trees, the city could potentially end up paying a big price in property damage claims.

"What we have been able to find out that in a calendar year, the claims for trees have gone up $25,000, that's a 50% increase," Conrad said. "If it continues to rise at that rate, we will be paying well over $100,000 in claims for people whose trees should have been removed or maintained."

The Common Council sent the resolution to committee for further discussion. But it will also be sent to the County Executive and County Legislature.

According to Conrad, there are approximately 67,000 residential trees in Buffalo and 32,000 within city parks.