Ash Tree Inventories

Detection of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Vermont in early 2018 prompted VT UCF to further encourage towns to conduct public ash tree inventories. An ash tree is infested with EAB will die within 1-5 years (if not treated) and may become a hazard to public safety. Vermont towns should understand their public ash tree population, including ash trees: 

  • In the right-of-way in town centers (street trees) and in high-use areas
  • In parks, town greens, or other town-owned recreational areas
  • In the right-of-way on rural roads
  • In natural areas, i.e. town forests, that could impact public safety if diseased or dying, such as those along trails
  • On private land that impact town properties or the town right-of-way, or are a priority for preservation

An inventory will facilitate realistic management of EAB by prioritizing removals, identifying trees suitable for treatment, and budgeting for tree treatment or removal.  

Check out this video to help you decide what type of inventory might be appropriate for your community. 

Ash Tree Inventory Options

Depending on the size and nature (urban vs. suburban vs. rural) of your community, and your capacity to coordinate and implement, consider these several ash tree inventory options:

Level I: Rapid Roadside Ash Survey

At a minimum, we recommend that you identify and document ash trees in high use areas (town greens, schools, playgrounds, dense residential areas), high use roads (Class 1 roads, emergency access routes), and around emergency facilities. A Rapid Roadside Survey is designed to capture a tally of ash trees. Information is collected on paper forms and the survey can be conducted from a moving vehicle. This form of a survey will produce an estimate of the number and size of ash trees that the town will need to manage for EAB, but will not provide detailed information on individual trees. These resources can assist you: Rapid Roadside Ash Survey Planning Worksheet and Rapid Roadside Ash Assessment Sample Data Collection Sheets.

Level II: Rural Roadside Ash Inventory Tool

If you plan on mapping your public ash trees, choose a GPS-based inventory that ties each tree or grouping of trees to a specific location. VT UCF collaborated with the GIS team at the Agency of Natural Resources to develop a map-based tool that will allow towns to collect basic data on their ash trees (size class, condition, location, and comments). The inventory can be conducted on foot or from a moving vehicle.  There are also a variety of GPS apps available for smart devices that may suit your needs.   

VTUCF has a limited number of iPads that can be loaned out to communities to conduct a Rural Roadside Ash Inventory, but the app can be downloaded to any smart phone or device.  Learn more about what devices are compatible with our tool.  Since the summer of 2018 over 25 towns have collected data on over 26,000 roadside ash trees using this tool.

Contact Joanne Garton if you are interested in pursuing use of, or setting up a training for the tool.  We have a robust Rural Roadside Ash Inventory Tool Guide that we can share upon request.

Level III: Public Tree Inventory 

If you would like to collect detailed information on each individual tree, you may want to consider conducting a complete public tree inventory. Since 2013, VT UCF has been using an app to assist Vermont towns with inventories of planted, managed trees in downtowns and village centers, and densely-populated residential areas. This form of inventory will produce the most detailed information, but will also require a significant investment of time for training and data collection. Learn more about Public Tree Inventories and contact Joanne Garton if you are interested in learning more.  

Ash Tree Inventory Considerations

Answer these questions to help you determine the scale, scope, and format. 

  • How will the data be used?  
  • Will you conduct a full or sample survey/inventory? 
  • Who will collect the data, and over what time period (municipal staff, volunteers, contracted professionals)?
  • What is the extent of areas you will the inventory? 

Accurate identification of ash trees will be crucial for a successful and efficient inventory. 

Visit the Vermont Forest Pest Planning Case Studies page to learn how nine Vermont communities inventoried ash trees in their town and developed an Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Plan. These towns varied widely in population, size, and resources, creating unique town experiences and lessons learned.