In many parts of town, it's fairly obvious why Longview has been named a Tree City USA. Trees arch over roadways, shade the sidewalks and make it tough to find a good spot to watch fireworks.

But how much of the city does the tree canopy really cover?

The city of Longview plans to find out using high-resolution satellite imagery. By creating an aerial map of Longview's urban forest, which includes trees on private property, the city can evaluate where it needs to plant more trees to achieve or maintain a goal of a 30 percent canopy. In future years, the map can be used as a baseline for comparison.

"The larger goal is to continue our efforts to develop and preserve the urban forest," Longview Parks and Recreation Director Rich Bemm said Tuesday.

The city plans to hire a contractor for the project, which will cost about $21,400. Part of the project will be funded with a $10,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program. The City Council will be asked to accept the grant at Thursday night's 7 p.m. meeting.

The contractor also will analyze the tree canopy in different land-use zones, including residential, commercial, parks, open space, natural areas, agriculture, institutions and schools. The results will provide the city with "a valuable tool for helping developers understand the value of preserving existing trees, including additional trees in their development plans and considering trees as mitigation to the stormwater management requirements," Bemm stated in a July 13 memo to city administrators.

Immediately after Thursday's meeting, the council will hold a workshop about proposed new rate structures for water and sewer customers that will be more predominately based on usage rather than fixed fees. On June 24, the council decided to postpone voting on the rate structure changes until Aug. 26 so it could meet with affected customers and gather more information.

Also during the workshop, the council will discuss bid proposals for red-light cameras and school-zone speed cameras. The meeting and workshop will be held on the second floor of Longview City Hall, at the corner of 15th Avenue and Broadway.

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