Saratoga’s first-ever Urban Forest Master Plan (draft) now available to public on City’s website

Sustainable Saratoga inventory provides the foundation for City’s planning efforts.

Public hearing at City Council meeting on May 21, 6:30 PM, in the council chambers.

City Council received the draft Urban Forest Master Plan last week from Bill Sprengnether of Cardinal Direction, the consultant they hired to draft the plan. They have posted a link to the plan (pdf format) in the upper right-hand corner of the City’s website: or you can follow this link directly to the download.

We urge you to read the draft.

And then to share your thoughts with City Council, in person or in writing.

We won’t pretend that the Urban Forest Master Plan (draft) is a page turner. But for those who care about the future of this great city, the plan does have its inspiring moments. If you can’t read the whole thing, perhaps you can at least peruse it. Or skim it. Or have your peeps (peops?) deliver an executive summary. (Or at least check out some plan highlights below.)

It is important for City Council to hear from you about the goals of the master plan. You will have at least two opportunities to make comments in person. The first is at the May 21 council meeting, which includes a presentation from the consultant and an opportunity for public comment. The second will come later, if and when the council puts the plan to a vote. On both occasions, it would be great for the council to see a strong turnout of people who value our trees.

Nearly five years of hard work–by Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project leadership, by countless citizen volunteers, and by City Council and City Hall staff–are finally coming together in the City’s first-ever urban forest master plan. The tree inventory, on which so many folks worked, provides the informational foundation underpinning this important planning document.

The draft plan is a wide-ranging document, giving a brief history of Saratoga’s urban forest, summarizing the many benefits the trees provide, making the case that a robust urban forest is an integral component of our City’s infrastructure, and outlining a vision for “preserving and expanding” our urban forest as a key strategy for ensuring the future betterment of Saratoga Springs. At the core of the plan, however, stand the following five action strategies. They are summarized on p. 2 and elaborated with more specifics on pp. 22-34.
Use planning and legislation to integrate trees more fully into Saratoga Springs’ infrastructure. Review and strengthen provisions regarding trees and the urban forest in all appropriate City ordinances, regulations, and planning documents. Enforce these provisions, and limit exemptions and variances granted by land-use boards.
Appoint a City Arborist and update inventory information regularly and review plans and adjust tactics annually. The City needs a point person with proper education in silvaculture to bring modern forestry techniques to the management of our urban forest. Routine maintenance of a data-base of information will allow the City to monitor the changing condition of the urban forest, and to make adjustments to ensure that steady progress with our goals for the urban forest.
Develop and implement Best Management Practices. Ensure that trees are planted and maintained properly for maximum tree health and survival.
Identify, commit, and leverage more resources for the urban forest. Recognizing that the benefits from trees far outweigh the costs, mobilize financial and human resources, public and private, to preserve and expand our urban forest.
Promote & cultivate citizen involvement. Engage the citizens in the care and stewardship of our urban forest. Build public-private partnerships to achieve the City’s goals.
Hope to see you on May 21 at 6:30 in City Hall.
If you can’t make it (or even if you can), consider sending your thoughts to the City Council (email addresses available on our website, ) and to us at

plan to make your voice heard
re: the city’s Comprehensive Plan revisions

Details are still in flux but …
MAY 29 from 6 to 8
at the City Center
will be your first opportunity
to communicate face-to-face with the Comprehensive Plan Committee
about your vision for the future of our great city.