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Melissa meets Melissa, she speaks for the trees

Melissa Topey • Jul 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM


I am a tree hugger.

I, Melissa Topey, went “On The Job” with Melissa Fetter, who is currently taking inventory of trees alongside city streets.

It is part of a twist we here at the Register are putting on my “On The Job” series: Melissa on the job with Melissa.

Are you a Melissa? Do you have a job? Contact reporter Melissa Topey so she can keep the Melissa-streak alive in her On the Job series; topey@sanduskyregister.com or 419.609.5884.

And we two Melissas had a good time on a sunny Thursday afternoon. I learned to identify a few varieties of trees, including a non-native maple, lilac, crab apple, ginkgo and honey locust trees. I learned to record their diameter, assess the health of the trees and got to step away from my desk to get in some exercise (I took 2,139 steps while evaluating about a dozen trees — Not bad for someone who sits at a desk a lot).

Melissa Fetter is the local Soil and Water Conservation District summer conservation intern but has become better known as the “Tree Girl” by those who have seen her out monitoring trees.

Fetter has already logged more than 1,700 trees from the time she started June 2.

It is all done with an electronic GPS system that I found very easy to use.

I used the handheld system to first record the location of a tree. Then a drop-down box asked a series of questions.

What is the type of tree?

What condition is the tree in, based on the canopy of leaves?

Is it damaging the sidewalk?

Are there power lines around and is the tree interfering with the lines?

The next screen asks about the condition of the trunk and has a place for notes.

I could even take a photo of a tree for the electronic file.

I had to do that for a lilac tree at the intersection of Market and Jackson streets, in front of the Rieger building across from the Sandusky Register.

I walked by that tree all the time. It was not until Fetter and I inspected the tree that I really looked at it.

It has a split trunk.

It appeared to have been that way for some time, said Breann Hohman, a member of the city Tree Commission as well as Watershed Coordinator with Erie Soil and Water Conservation District.

Fetter is paid by the district through a Community Foundation Grant.

We also noted a couple trees with girdling roots.

Trees can slowly weaken and die over a period of years as the roots begin to grow around the main stem, cutting off or restricting movement of water and nutrients throughout the tree.

This is caused most commonly from improper planting which does not leave enough root space as the tree grows.

There are several reasons to inspect the health of trees.

* It is important to the esthetics of a community.

* Trees help clean pollutants from the soil and the air.

* They play a major role in creating an inviting walking community where residents come out to walk and visit in the cooling shade they provide.

* Tree-lined streets tend to have lesser crime, Hohman said citing numerous studies.

* An unhealthy tree along the road can damage electrical lines and cause a neighborhood to lose power if the tree or a branch breaks.

No one likes to be left in the dark.

The city could use volunteers to help inventory trees in the parks or maybe help cover a street.

Anyone interested in helping can call Hohman at 419-626-5211 extension 111.

Fetter will make you chocolate chip cookies, she promises.

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