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Tree Talk

Rehoboth Beach And Its Trees

In Rehoboth Beach, the trees play a defining role in our City’s unique character.  Our urban forest, which is composed of all private and public trees, is consistently a topic of interest and concern. From the adoption of a tree code, hiring a staff arborist, investment in a tree inventory, and more recent articles and letters in the newspaper, it’s clear that we value our trees. The tree inventory in 2012 recorded about 1,500 trees and appraised them at over $2 million. But besides that dollar amount, there are environmental, health, and intrinsic values attributed to trees. As pressures from development and tourism continue to rise, it is increasingly important that we protect and enhance our urban forest. 

To that point, the City works constantly to maintain existing trees, plant new trees, and foster positive public interest.  Currently, we have a few interesting events occurring:

  • There’s a new website resource for trees (http://www.cityofrehoboth.com/residents/trees) with FAQs, forms, and tree care advice.
  • We’ve updated the tree inventory and included an interactive map, which will soon be available online.
  • This winter, we plan to prune select trees on Rehoboth Ave., at the Stockley St. tot-lot, and along Scarborough Ave. median.
  • New City Hall landscape and tree planting plans are in development and review.
  • A contractor recently removed 25 dead trees in Deer Park and Central Park.
  • A group of volunteers formed the “Ivy league” group to combat invasive English ivy in parks.
  • City workers will plant 23 new trees along Rehoboth Ave. in November.

Although the City maintains its parks and planted trees, I also receive questions regarding privately owned trees.  While the tree code covers issues surrounding private property trees, such as removal and replanting, there are often questions that fall outside of the code’s scope. 

One of the most common questions relates to neighboring tree problems. If a neighbor’s tree is dead, the City can step in to require the tree’s removal. However, most complaints relate to limbs over property lines or other nuisances. If this is the case, my recommendation is to speak to the tree owner and attempt to resolve the issue.  However, it is usually not the tree owner’s responsibility to prune those limbs.  If an agreement can’t be reached, the tree limbs may be pruned back towards the property line— but, keep in mind that trees have a natural shape and aggressive pruning may worsen the problem.

The other request I receive regularly is for a private property tree evaluation.  Although I generally can’t provide an onsite assessment, I can offer guidance. At the heart of the request, though, is a desire for an unbiased opinion.  The best advice I can relate is two-fold.  First, find an arborist and develop a relationship with that arborist. He or she should have a vested interest in your trees and be more likely to dispense impartial advice. Lastly, don’t remove a tree just because it has one flaw. While no tree is perfect, some problems can be fixed and some can’t.

Elisabeth Lingo
City Arborist