Delaware Forest Service certifies Pot-Nets and Baywood as Tree Friendly Communities

Friday, November 21, 2014
GeneralMonthly Community UpdateResidentsTunnell Vision Pot-Nets

Pot-Nets Communities and Baywood, seven residential communities near Millsboro that total over 3,000 acres, are now certified as Tree Friendly by the Delaware Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program. Modeled on the national Tree City USA certification, Delaware's unique program honors select communities and homeowner associations throughout the First State that demonstrate a commitment to protecting and enhancing their urban forest resources.

A community can qualify for the honor by accomplishing at least three of the following: perform an annual ceremony to promote community forests, complete a tree project that enhances existing urban forests, develop a community forestry management plan, adopt a community tree ordinance that protects trees, form a tree commission or tree board that serves as the guiding body for tree-related decisions, or have a tree budget of $1 per residential household.

Delaware Urban Forestry Council Tree Friendly Program

Situated close to popular tourist attractions and beach areas along the Sussex County coast, Pot-Nets and Baywood comprise seven land-lease communities that are owned and managed by the Tunnell Companies. Because trees are an integral part of the area's natural appeal, owner Robert Tunnell III took an active role in developing a comprehensive plan to ensure the health of the trees and the safety of residents.

The effort was also spurred on by a 2010 state law that effectively transferred control of and responsibility for all trees - private and public - to the property management. According to Jay Ashby, a certified arborist who oversees much of the tree work, the annual cost of tree-related services is estimated to be more than $100 per residence.

"I just think it's a good thing to have, whether you're a resident living here and you see the sign coming in or you're just someone else who just happens to be driving by, that this is a Tree Friendly Community," said Cameron Marcelle, director of landscaping for the Tunnell Companies.

Reflecting on their status as Tree Friendly Communities, owner Robert Tunnell III commented, "I think it's going to allow the residents to really see and understand better what the tree crew does on a daily basis."

"Most residents don't really understand that we have a full-time tree crew on staff with two certified arborists, and we have multiple people who are tree risk assessors to actually identify the hazards. Not only do we do the routine maintenance, but we also have all the record-keeping so that we know the species of the tree, how many trees are on lots, and what work we did to it. It's pretty extensive," Tunnell added.

"When you come into a community, your first impression is that when it was developed, it wasn't just clear cut. We maintained and left the trees in areas that we knew we could," Tunnell said.

With the help of Marcelle and ISA-certified arborist Jay Ashby, Tunnell Companies developed a tree care plan to manage all of its urban and community trees. The five full-time tree workers inventoried trees by location, species, size, and condition and recorded the collected information in a tree database.  The staff's goal is to continue to protect and improve the community forest to enhance the lives of all of the residents.