Communication Builds Our Community

Lake Wales to Create Tree Advisory Board

Step Will Move City Closer to "Tree City USA" Designation

A new Tree Advisory Board being created by City Ordinance will create a five-member board that will be charged with a host of tasks assisting the city's Horticulturist Lester Gulledge.

"This board will be there simply to help our horticulturist and our horticulture program," said Michael Manning, assistant to the city manager, in presenting the item to the city commission at their workshop. "It was just about one year ago today that we started a horticulture program," Manning said. "A day one goal was to become a Tree City, to be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City."

The board will be expected to assist in creating an Inventory of all trees on city maintained property, and development and maintenance of a written plan for their care, preservation, pruning, planting. The plan will also address replanting, removal of trees in parks, city maintained rights-of-way, and other public areas.

Planting trees to restore the city's original landscape design created by famed architect Frederick Law Olmsted has been undertaken by Lake Wales Heritage, a not-profit Olmsted Conservancy group. That group is already planting privately-funded trees along city rights-of-way in accordance with the original designs.

Other charges expected of the new board will be to promote awareness of the city's tree canopy and develop educational programs to communicate

the benefits of trees, work towards the beautification of the City through maintenance of the city's trees, and earn recognition and active membership in organizations such as Tree City USA, and America in Bloom.

"We will be eligible for significantly more grants with a Tree Advisory Board,": Manning told commissioners.

The Tree Advisory Board will also aid the city in pursuit of relevant grant opportunities, and work with Gulledge on matters concerning trees and related resources, and help the city keep abreast of current trends in urban forestry through appropriate training and development programs.

The city and Heritage organization are co-hosting "Olmsted Day in the Park," a "family fun day" and educational event in Lake Wailes Park on April 30. One of the major goals of the city's effort is to educate the public about the unique gift Lake Wales received from Edward Bok, who secretly funded the creation of the city's original Olmsted landscape. Lake Wales is the only city in the state of Florida to be able to boast of an Olmsted landscape, a mark of distinction that sets it apart as a "City in a Garden."

Although the original plans were left unfinished due to the impact of the Great Depression, Lake Wales Heritage is raising funds to complete the original plan while rehabilitation the first streets, which have lost many of their trees over time.

The ordinance establishing the board will be heard at the city commission meeting Tuesday, March 15.


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