Palm Coast - Beginning Monday, Feb. 19, the City of Palm Coast will be removing 14 laurel oak trees along westbound Palm Coast Parkway, between Clubhouse Drive and Florida Park Drive.

The laurel oaks being removed are nearing the end of their natural life expectancy, with signs of disease including dead branches high up in the trees, branches that are falling, and large cavities in the tree trunks, said City of Palm Coast Urban Forester Carol Mini. They pose a public safety hazard to pedestrians and motorists.

To mitigate against the removal of the trees, 11 new trees will be planted in that stretch of the parkway - more than what's required by City code. The new trees will be 4-inch-caliper hardwood trees, approximately 16 feet tall.

"We love trees and the tree canopy, and we know the value of what trees provide to our City," Mini said. "It is our goal to protect mature trees and to promote the planting of new trees, so that our tree canopy remains strong over time."

The tree removal will be done in-house by the Palm Coast Public Works Department and is being done now to be proactive before hurricane season. The entire project including planting the new trees is expected to take several weeks. The City's Tree Fund will cover the cost of the new trees, which are about $400 each. The Tree Fund is an account that collects equivalent dollar valuations for replacement trees, on both residential and non-residential properties, for tree removals requiring mitigation when there is not sufficient area to re-plant the trees on the original site.

Also as part of the project, four laurel oaks at Heroes Memorial Park, 2860 Palm Coast Pkwy. NW, will be replaced. Those trees also are declining and pose a safety concern.

This project is part of an ongoing effort by the City to identify and replace declining trees across Palm Coast. The City has been recognized for 12 straight years as a Tree City USA, which is based on four standards that show a community is committed to tree protection.

"Hurricane season will be here before we know it," Mini said. "We encourage all residents to inspect their trees now and do any needed tree maintenance before the summer storms arrive. Regular tree maintenance is important for safety and also for the health of the trees."

Good information on Proper pruning techniques is available at http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/pruning.shtml, and residents can find an arborist and get tree care tips at http://www.isa-arbor.com/.

If hiring a tree service, confirm that they're licensed to do work in the City of Palm Coast. Either call 386-986-3766 or go to www.palmcoastgov.com/local-business-search and search for "tree surgeons" in the "Business Type" box.

When meeting with a prospective tree service, ask questions about their training and expertise in pruning. Make sure they would never take off the whole top of a tree. "Topping" a tree and other bad pruning techniques can cause irreparable damage.

Beware of unlicensed tree solicitors. They will oftentimes place a card in your door or solicit on the weekends. A low price should be a red flag on quality.

For more information, contact Cindi Lane, Communications & Marketing Manager, at 386-986-3708 andclane@palmcoastgov.com.