The Urban and Community Forest Master Plan guides the expansion and preservation of the City of Saratoga Spring’s urban forest, with the goal of maximizing the benefits that trees provide to Saratoga Springs. In the context of this report the definition of the Urban Forest is limited to all trees on the City’s property or Rights-of-Way for which the City has maintenance responsibilities. This plan builds on the vision outlined by the City Council in its June 3, 2008 resolution, in which they declared that “the preservation and expansion of the Urban Forest will serve the public interest by improving the community’s physical, social, cultural and economic environment.” This Master Plan elaborates on the 2008 goals by committing Saratoga Springs (the City) to factor the contributions of the urban forest into all infrastructure planning and development decisions. As Mayor Scott Johnson observed in his 2008 cover letter to the DEC grant that supported this plan’s creation, “The development of a truly comprehensive Urban and Community Forest Master Plan will complement and support the objectives of the City’s adopted Comprehensive Plan, Open Spaces Resources 2002—the City’s Open Space Plan—and serve as a guide to future investment in this essential resource.” The Plan specifies planning, regulatory, and enforcement policies that the City will engage to encourage the preservation and expansion of the urban forest on public land, in order to maximize the City’s benefits.
Since 2008, the City has adopted other progressive policies, notably Climate Smart and Complete Streets, in which the trees and the urban forest play pivotal roles. No serious plan for reducing greenhouse gases could ignore trees as among the most cost-effective tools to work with. Nor can one imagine designing pedestrian-friendly streets or neighborhoods without trees. The Urban and Community Forest Master Plan provides an opportunity to weave these strands of the City’s planning and design efforts into a promising big picture for Saratoga’s future.