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City Forester Calls On Residents To Keep Up Pittsburgh's Urban Tree Canopy

Andy Kubis
Allegheny Front
Restoration work in Frick Park includes removing bush honeysuckle that chokes out native plants.

Lisa Ceoffe, forester for the City of Pittsburgh, says the health of the city’s tree population has improved since she assumed the position in the Department of Public Works a little more than 10 years ago. 

Public streets around Pittsburgh support approximately 33,000 shade trees, Coeffe says, and the city plants an annual 600 trees to maintain that cover, which is perpetually threatened by private property owners who cut down trees without replacing them. The trees also benefit the environment, reduce landslide risk and improve neighborhood property values, she says.

Credit Maria Scapellato / WESA
Lisa Ceoffe, city forester with the city's public works department, pictured here at a recent work site.

Ceoffe, who spoke to 90.5 WESA's Maria Scapellato ahead of Arbor Day, encourages homeowners to enlist the advice of an arborist before pruning or cutting down a tree themselves.

“It’s important for folks to know that saving trees and protecting trees matters.” Ceoffe says. 

Later in the program:

A plan to build more affordable housing in Pittsburgh is moving through the city’s legislative process. Inclusionary zoning was originally predicated on offering a tax break to all affected developers, but 90.5 WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss reports the city’s tax abatement systems are a mess.

In the days after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburghers seized onto a phrase that both inspired and described the community’s response: “stronger than hate.” 90.5 WESA’s Liz Reid reports putting that maxim into practice would require a big shift in how we think about human nature.

And PennDOT is shifting down work on a $12.4 million multimodal project in Ohiopyle Borough, Fayette County. The project includes work to widen Route 381 and build a pedestrian tunnel under the road. Bill Beaumariage, support services engineer for PennDOT District 12, says the work will be paused for the busy summer season as residents from across the region prepare to visit Ohiopyle State Park. He joins park manager Ken Bisbee about what's ahead as the project temporarily wraps before its Memorial Day deadline.

90.5 WESA's Noah Brode contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Maria Gabriel Scapellato began her radio career at a commercial radio station in Harrisburg in 1985. Later, she moved to WITF 89.5 FM as the local host of All Things Considered, returning to Pittsburgh in 1992, where she has since worked in both radio and television at various Pittsburgh stations as a general assignment reporter. Originally from West Mifflin in the Mon Valley, she studied Journalism at West Virginia University.
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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