Hundreds of trees in the historic Mount Hope Cemetery have fallen victim in recent years to weather, old age, and disease — about 250 trees since 2010. The comforting canopy of oaks, maples, spruces, and other tree varieties is a vital part of the aesthetic of the historic cemetery, officials say, so plans are under way to reforest Mount Hope.
The City of Rochester and Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery are overseeing the project. A consultant will be hired to create a tree master plan, which will likely be implemented in stages over the course of several years, officials say.
The city and the Friends group also hope to raise $70,000 through a public campaign to help fund the project. The campaign was launched on October 3, 2013 — the cemetery's 175th birthday. As of December 27, approximately $9,500 had been raised.
Many of the trees that were removed were Norway maples, officials say, which is an invasive species.
"Because of that, they don't live very long," says Mary Gaudioso, who is assistant commissioner of the city's Department of Environmental Services. "It appears that many were planted at about the same time."
They were probably planted because they grow quickly, says JoAnn Beck, the city's senior landscape architect. "The whole idea of managing the forest and reducing the pest species is kind of a modern idea," she says.
Mount Hope has a diverse palette of trees, Gaudioso says, so the master plan must preserve that variety. But the trees must also fit the character of the parts of the cemetery they're planted in, she says.
"In certain areas we have very tall trees, like oak trees," Gaudioso says. "So if we're replacing in that area, we're looking for similar structure."