East Hills neighborhood earns recognition for its efforts to protect trees

By Matthew S. Russell

Grand Rapids‘ East Hills neighborhood has received statewide
honors for its efforts to protect its urban forest.

East Hills’ efforts were recognized by the
Arboriculture Society of Michigan, which named the neighborhood its 2009 Community
Service Award winner.

The statewide ASM award honors nonprofit
groups for their work in drawing attention to the importance of trees through
efforts such as planting, tree care and community beautification.

Carol Moore, one of several East Hills volunteers
working on tree issues, accepted the ASM award for the neighborhood at the
ASM’s annual conference at
Oakland University in August.

Kevin Sayers, state coordinator of the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program,
nominated East Hills for the award.

Over the past four years, East Hills has
completed an inventory of its street and park trees, developed an urban forest
plan for the neighborhood, planted more than 40 trees and created a plan for
treating its public ash trees.

The neighborhood’s Web site,
www.easthillscouncil.org, boasts an interactive tree map based on the
inventory. The site also includes the urban forest plan and news of the
neighborhood’s tree activities.

The neighborhood has raised more than $40,000
to support its tree work. The funding has come from neighborhood residents and
businesses, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Dyer-Ives Foundation, and
Michigan Department of Natural Resources initiatives with the
DTE Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry

“We believe that trees are a vital
economic, environmental, and quality of life asset to East Hills,” East
Hills Council of Neighbors organizer KC Caliendo, said. “Our inventory
indicates that East Hills’ public trees have a cumulative value of more than $4
million–not including the annual environmental, property value and other
benefits they provide. In order to protect and enhance this asset, we’re
committed to planting and maintaining trees and involving the community in
supporting our urban forest.”

East Hills will continue its urban forest
activity with a NeighborWoods event, in collaboration with Friends of Grand
Rapids Parks, on Oct. 24 from 9.a.m. to
Cherry Park.

The event will include a tree planting, a
tree tour and other activities. Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is coordinating
four NeighborWoods events at city parks on Saturdays in October as part of
national NeighborWoods activities sponsored by the Alliance for Community Trees
and Home Depot Foundation.

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