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The State of Edgewood’s Street Trees

Most of Edgewood’s 1,621 street trees were judged to be in relatively good condition. However, a vast majority suffer from conflicts with power lines and sidewalks. There is a paucity of young trees on our streets indicating that many older trees will not be replaced. And there is a striking lack of diversity among our public trees. More than fifty-five percent of the trees are comprised of just two invasive and exotic species: Norway Maples (32%) and Callery Pears (24%).  This means that the canopy is highly vulnerable to disease and pests. Whatever their shortcomings, these trees are crucial to the health of our community by providing the following:

  • Carbon Storage: 860.5 tons ($147 thousand)
  • Carbon Sequestration: 19.09 tons ($3.26 thousand/year)
  • Oxygen Production: 50.91 tons/year
  • Avoided Runoff: 224 thousand gallon/year ($2 thousand/year)

These are some of the conclusions of a recent inventory of the trees along our neighborhood’s roadways that was initiated by the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA).

Edgewood’s street trees

The Inventory Process

In the Fall of 2023, the EWPA recruited eighteen neighborhood volunteers to conduct an inventory of the area’s “public trees”. Funded by an Urban & Community Forestry Grant from the RI Department of Environmental Management, Doug Still of This Old Tree Consulting trained the volunteers in tree identification, measurement, and assessment as well as the use of the Forest Metrix tree inventory software on mobile devices.  For purposes of the 2023 Edgewood tree inventory, “city-owned trees” were defined as being within six feet of the street curb.  Cranston’s Tree Warden, John Skorupski, participated in the training. The inventory results will be provided to the City of Cranston to populate a database to be used by the Tree Warden and Engineering Department to manage existing trees, and will be GIS compatible. The data will also serve as a baseline for future assessment of the growth or decline of Cranston’s tree resource. While this was a pilot project, EWPA hopes that the street tree inventory effort will be extended to all neighborhoods in Cranston in future years. The City has recently applied to the RIDEM for an RI Urban Forests for Rhode Island Technical Assistance grant that would address Cranston’s entire tree canopy, especially its disadvantaged communities. Cranston’s “tree equity” score of 86 (out of 100) is one of the lowest in the State. If accepted, the city would receive funds for assessment, planning, and tree planting.

Doug Still describing the leaf bud patterns of different tree species.

The inventory covered the Cranston neighborhood between the Providence line and the Pawtuxet River, and between Narragansett Bay and Interstate 95.  The area was mapped and divided into 9 different survey zones. The survey did not include trees on private property, at public institutions, or in parks. Each pair of volunteers was assigned a zone of contiguous streets typically requiring a total of approximately 20 – 24 hours to complete. To supplement their tree identification skills, surveyors made use of flora identification applications on their phones.

Doug Still providing training to the volunteers

Lessons Learned from the Inventory Process

The Volunteers all complained of the challenge posed entering the Forest Matrix software data using a small phone screen and strongly recommended using tablets in the future. Some found judging tree condition challenging so that will merit more attention in future trainings. As the inventory crews worked their zones wearing their safety vests, they encountered a range of responses from local inhabitants. Most were very interested and supportive of the project. However, in some cases, suspicions were voiced: What were they doing there? Were they going to cut down the trees? During future inventories in other Cranston neighborhoods, advance public education should be a key component.

Maria Wall and Andrea Klimt measure a maple tree on Glen Avenue

Findings of the Tree Inventory

Edgewood’s street tree canopy lacks diversity. This makes the area’s trees vulnerable to disease and other threats.  For example, Edgewood could lose 48.9% of its trees to the Winter Moth. As a rule, it is recommended that an urban forest should not be made up of more than 10% of a single species, 20% of a single genus, and 30% of single family.  In Edgewood, more than 55% of the trees are comprised of just two invasive and exotic species: Norway Maples (32%) and Callery Pears (24%).  Maples as a family dominate with approximately 45% of Edgewood’s public trees. Forty-seven percent of the neighborhood’s inventoried “leaf area” is made up of invasive species. Despite their shortcomings, the trees have a replacement value of $3.41 million.

The area’s trees are in relatively good condition.   Two-thirds of the trees were judged to be in either excellent or good condition. However, twenty-five dead trees were found.

The size of Edgewood’s trees does not portend well for the future of the canopy. Tree size was measured by DBH (diameter at breast height).  For replacement purposes, the smallest class of trees (0 – 6 inches DBH) should predominate.  In Edgewood’s case, these young trees constitute only 18% of those inventoried.

Most of Edgewood’s trees suffer from conflicts.  Trees are challenged by utility wires, sidewalk incursion, and other factors.

The majority of the area’s trees do not have sufficient room to grow.  Only Twenty-six percent of Edgewood’s street trees have room to grow properly.  54% of trees are constrained within 4’ by 4’ plots.

If you interested in getting involved in the crucial issue of Cranston’s tree canopy, contact Donna at

Another Use of Stillhouse Cove

Did you know that for years Stillhouse Cove Park has been used as a site to test the strength of radio station signals in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission?

The Mounting Threat to Stillhouse Cove

Increasing Frequency of Extraordinary High Tides

The high water levels and winds of the December 23, 2022 storm drew parallels to Super Storm Sandy in 2012. We voiced our concern that it had undermined Stillhouse Cove Park’s embankment. But this winter, within less than two months, we have experienced three storms with almost equivalent tide levels and flooding. The storms took place on November 22 and December 18, 2023 and January 13, 2024.

Ocean Avenue is flooded
Rhode Island Yacht Club is engulfed.
The Park’s vulnerable bank is inundated.

The January 13, 2024 Storm

Christmas Cove Fog Beauty


We’ve all heard of Rhode Island’s housing shortage.  According to the Rhode Island Audubon Society, it also applies to our local water raptors.  Consequently, the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA) recently erected a nesting tower in Stillhouse Cove Marsh.  Qualified tenants will be welcomed next Spring. 

EWPA worked with Charles Clarkson from RI Audubon and Wenley Ferguson of Save the Bay to identify the most suitable site in the Marsh. EWPA purchased the materials and volunteer Charlie assembled the platform and post.  We obtained a permit from the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). And just prior to Thanksgiving, Eddy and Augusto from Contemporary Landscaping dug a hole for the post and erected it during a low tide with strong assistance from EWPA board member Donna and new neighbor John.

Is it really “Doghouse” Cove?

According to the AVMA, Rhode Island ranks 46th in the nation in dog ownership with only 26% of households having a mutt (Idaho is first with 58%). You certainly wouldn’t know that in this neighborhood! Every day, Stillhouse Cove Park is the destination for multitudes of Edgewood’s dogs and their owners who know each other through their pets. EWPA volunteer Ray Mooney regularly stocks the dog waste bags in the several dispensers next to the Park. Some of us can remember a time when owners did not pick up after their dogs. Thankfully that practice is long gone and everyone participates in keeping the beloved waterfront area pristine.

Photos by Thomas Wojick

2023 International Coastal Cleanup at Stillhouse Cove

On September 23, more than 33 volunteers braved the rain and showed up to clean the shoreline at Stillhouse Cove. The event was one of many such cleanups throughout Rhode Island coordinated by Save the Bay.

Visit with Trustee of Vivian J Palmieri Trust

Barbara Rubine welcoming John Murphy

On August 15, 2003, John Murphy, a trustee of the Palmieri Trust, met with the EWPA board to review current work and to hear about upcoming projects at Stillhouse Cove. The Trust funded the rose garden and has been a generous supporter of our efforts to improve and maintain the park for several years. Mr. Murphy, a former resident of Edgewood with deep roots in the community, is very familiar with the history of Stillhouse Cove and commented on the transformation of the park and wetland area over recent years. The entire board was present and appreciated the opportunity to meet with Mr. Murphy.

The Palmieri Trust rose garden

Protecting the Cove’s Trees

Sticky post

The trees in Stillhouse Cove Park that provide us with shade and beauty require constant care and EWPA and its partners have recently performed several critical tasks.

Three Ash trees were treated on 8.12.23 for Emerald Ash Borer.  One tree was already infected, but treatment should help prevent further damage. Damaged parts will need to be pruned to make the damage less noticeable.  Steve and Scott of Northeast Tree made the injections which were paid for by City of Cranston through the funds available to the City Tree Warden John Skorupski.

Schwartz Tree and Landscaping donated services trying to repair several bad pruning cuts performed at some point on these same Ash trees in an effort to limb up low lying branches.

For the first time EWPA invested in mulching around almost all of the trees in the park.  This was done at the recommendation of the RI Tree Council to create a larger ring around the trees to protect their surface roots.  The effort is more than aesthetic mulching:  mulching encourages insect activity and protects the roots from damage from mowing, and it does look nice. Mulch also keeps the soil moist which hydrates the trees and enables the trees to absorb stormwater better than dry compacted soil.

It was observed that several juniper trees that self seeded on the banks under the cottonwood trees were subjected to unauthorized pruning.  The person who did this cut the tops off of the trees and threw the branches into the creeks behind the trees in an effort to hide the branches.  The Cranston Tree Warden has been notified of the unauthorized cutting of native juniper virginiana trees growing on the edges of the salt marsh that are vital to erosion control.  EWPA has a healthy working relationship with City personnel and seeks authorization every time we need to address tree issues that include, but are not limited to, removing invasive trees and seedlings, spraying trees for infestations, and limbing up trees that cause issues for vehicles and pedestrians, etc.

We will also be working on removing invasive white pear trees and Tree of Heaven seedlings at our October cleanup.  Approval from the Tree Warden will be sought in advance.

August Battle Against Invasives at Stillhouse Cove

Erstwhile EWPA volunteers showed up on August 5, 2023 to fight back loosestrife and other invasives that have run rampant in the Park and Marsh at Stillhouse Cove. Participants included: Deborah Tellers Palladino, Michelle Maynard, Jerry Long, Andrew Goodale, Steve Johnson, Colin Murphy, Barbara Rubine, and Donna Fieldman.  Charlie, Donna, and Barbara carefully trimmed the limbs on Strathmore Place that were hitting cars and trucks.

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