2015-04-24 / Community

Town wins Project Canopy grant

Kennebunkport to receive $4,919 from federal forestry assistance program
By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — The trees in Kennebunkport are being brought into the 21st century, and are getting their own website to boot.

On April 9, the town won a $4,919 grant from Project Canopy, a community forestry program managed by the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine, using money from the USDA’s Community Forestry Assistance Program.

Founded in 2003 to promote natural resource management in populated areas, Project Canopy awards funds in two categories — planning and education, and planting and maintenance.

According to Kennebunkport Public Works Director Michael Claus, the grant money will be put toward a $7,000 project that aims to bring care of certain Kennebunkport trees inhouse.

The town established a tree warden and tree committee in the 1950s when American Dutch Elm disease was at its height, wrecking havoc on the popular shade trees that lined many municipal streets.

As a result, Kennebunkport has what is purported to be the largest surviving stand of municipal elms in the state. Today, the town maintains 1,123 trees, including 94 American Elms, according to the most recent count, done in 2013. However, the town has relied on subcontractors to maintain both the trees and related records.

Using the Project Canopy grant, the town will set up a Kennebunkport Shade Tree program on the Internet, with a website that would map all of the town-maintained trees. The system would be available on wireless devices, allowing the tree warden and town crews to respond to issues and inquiries submitted by residents.

“This ‘cloud-based’ application would have a secure operational element for staff and a public interface available to anyone,” wrote Thomas Burns, of Portland based GIS Mapping and Analysis, who prepared the grant.

“The system would include the types of maintenance (performed on each tree) and an assessment of its vigor, structure and other diagnosis,” Burns wrote.

In all, the DACF gave out $133,000 in Project Canopy grants this year, funding 19 of 22 applications. Six of the awards, like Kennebunkport’s, are to develop plans, while 13 are for actual planting programs.

The only other award in York County this year went to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, which received a $6,995 planning grant.

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