The Town completed an Urban Forest Master Plan in July 2023. This was a grant-funded project through the SC Forestry Commission and US Forest Service, and the Davey Resource Group (DRG) was hired as a consultant. The purpose of the Urban Forestry Master Plan (UFMP) was to build upon the Town's prior research and analysis and provide a framework for the Town to effectively manage and maintain the urban and community forest as a sustainable asset consistent with the values and needs of the community, while maximizing its ecological, social, health, and economic benefits. The main objectives were to create a better understanding of the Town's tree maintenance needs, prioritize tree removal and planting, plan for short-term and long-term staffing and funding needs, develop risk management and hazard mitigation strategies, and allow the Town to advocate and advance the myriad of benefits that trees provide to the community.
Through the public process and development of the Urban Forest Master Plan, the Town met the stated purpose, and the Plan identified recommendations and action items to accomplish the objectives identified. The analysis identified key concerns and areas for improvement, including a priority planting map. The vision identified in the plan is the purposeful planting, protection, and care of Summerville's trees, which will distinguish the Town as a place of beauty, health, and vitality for residents and visitors. The Davey Resource Group provided eight main recommendations:
Regularly update Summerville's urban tree canopy assessment.
Complete a comprehensive tree inventory of all right-of-way and park trees.
Grow the Town's urban forestry program to match the desired level of service.
Develop an urban forest management plan for the Town's public trees.
Integrate urban forestry planning and resources into a parks and recreation master plan.
Leverage public and stakeholder support for trees to advance funding and partnerships for urban forestry.
Refine existing tree protection policies for private residential property and development.
Establish a program to prioritize tree planting in locations that advance town sustainability and equity goals.
Each recommendation includes individual actions, creating a comprehensive roadmap for the Town to manage and maintain its urban and community forest effectively. In addition, the outreach in the planning process raised awareness of the need for a greater focus on the urban and community forest and provided educational opportunities for the public and stakeholders.