YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Officials with the City of Youngstown have been talking about their trees. City council created a new Climate Change, Environment and Sustainable Technology Committee, and a meeting was held earlier this month about removing the dead and unwanted one.

On a recent sunny afternoon on Youngstown’s Sherwood Avenue, Lola Lewis was helping a crew of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation plant three American Beech trees on a vacant lot.

“Our trees are in decline. They need help,” Lewis said.

Lewis graduated from Youngstown’s South High School in 1973. In the 1980s, she earned a degree in agriculture and forestry — the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of women.

“They were mandated by a magistrate in California to actively recruit women and minorities to go into forestry, so I was blessed with a scholarship,” Lewis said.

She eventually landed an urban forestry position with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, covering Mahoning County. Though she retired last year, Lewis still uses her expertise to advise YNDC’s TreeCorp program on best practices.

“[Lewis is] an inspiration to our effort here. She’s taught me everything I know about planting trees,” said Jack Daugherty with YNDC. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without her.”

Lewis says Youngstown’s “tree situation” needs work.

Several years ago, YNDC paid for an inventory of the trees in the Crandall Park and Boulevard Park neighborhoods. Lewis says all of Youngstown’s trees need inventoried.

Lewis: “It’s very important that we look at if we have inventories. Inventories can tell us exactly what we have.”
Reporter/Anchor Stan Boney: “We don’t have one of those, do we?”
Lewis: “We don’t have a complete inventory. We have started that?”

Lewis says maintaining healthy trees is matter of planting more — as well as taking care of what’s already there.

“The more that we can get together and do the different things that we do, the more we can increase and raise up the opportunities for people coming back into Youngstown and put it back where it was,” Lewis said.