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Grand Rapids Tree Advocate Named Volunteer of the Year

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is honored to announce that Dotti Clune, a tireless advocate for trees and urban forest, has received the Alliance for Community Trees 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award. The award highlights inspirational volunteers in action who have made a contribution to urban forestry by improving community trees and the neighborhoods where they live.

“Volunteers are the heart of local tree nonprofits, providing the resources and energy that make tree planting and care possible,” says Carrie Gallagher, ACTrees Executive Director. “Dotti Clune embodies all the qualities that make for a great volunteer. She’s knowledgeable and passionate about urban forests, and an inspiring leader to those around her.”

As part of the award, Clune will receive a trip to Washington, DC this February to attend ACTrees Policy Summit where she will meet with Michigan’s Congressional delegation to promote the value of trees and green infrastructure for solving urban challenges.

In over two decades of service, Clune has been a tireless advocate for expanding and protecting Grand Rapids’ urban trees. She played a founding role with the Mayor’s Urban Forestry Committee, assisted in developing the City’s urban forest plan, was active in setting the 40% canopy goal as part of the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan, and pioneered tree mapping and analysis in the East Hills neighborhood. All of which set the stage for more focused public/ philanthropic attention to and investment in a healthier urban forest.

“Dotti Clune is a consummate promoter of trees and an educator of their value in our community, “says Mayor George Heartwell. “Her efforts have significantly positively affected the City’s outlook and efforts on urban forestry in our community.”

“Dotti is consistently ahead of the curve,” says Lee Mueller, Urban Forest Project Coordinator at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, who nominated Clune. In 2008,
when the invasive tree-killing Emerald Ash Borer was knocking on the city’s door, conventional wisdom led the city to begin preemptive removal of Ash trees. But
Clune collected data from leading arborists and gathered best practices from other cities to argue for a treatment strategy, which saved a significant portion of the city’s canopy.

According to Mueller, “Without her guidance, the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project would not be nearly as advanced or productive as it is today,” says
Mueller. “She is a ubiquitous partner among all of our initiatives, efforts, and work with the City of Grand Rapids. Every city should have a Dotti.”

Every day, volunteers are working with nonprofits in cities across the country to plant and care for trees. Their hard work makes communities cleaner, greener,
and healthier. ACTrees also recognized local Finalists for Volunteer of the Year Award from other parts of the country.

Runner-up: Jim Gersbach, Friends of Trees (Portland, OR)
Gina Bosworth, The Delaware Center for Horticulture (Wilmington, DE)
Phillip Bower, City of Fitchburg (Fitchburg, WI)
Lori Braunstein, NJ Tree Foundation (Camden, NJ)
Barbara Burrill, City Fruit (Seattle, WA)
Dee Dunbar, Forterra (Seattle, WA)
Albert Fang, Our City Forest (San Jose, CA)
Carol Lehr, Trees For Houston (Houston, TX)
Charlie Starbuck, Friends of the Urban Forest (San Francisco, CA)

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks plans to launch a new Citizen Forester project this spring and is recruiting volunteers for a tree planting for Arbor Day, April 26 &27. People can learn more about volunteering and the urban forest at urbanforestproject.com.

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