Ottawa Hills’ Tree Champions

Ottawa Hills has a rich history of tree care; in fact, many neighbors would agree that their trees are an important contribution to the character of their neighborhood. Between 2007 and 2010, concerned Ottawa Hills neighbors collected enough money to plant 65 trees to replace trees taken down due to damage or disease. This past year, Ottawa Hills friends and neighbors Kathy Vance and Susan Zimmerman decided it was time to re-boot that effort.

Kathy initiated the effort, partly because “outside is my favorite place to be” and tree planting offered as good an excuse as any to spend time outdoors. “I got involved with the OHNA tree project when Kathy mentioned at a board meeting that she could use some help” added Susan. Between the two of them, a mini-grant request was submitted to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (FGRP) for 15 trees.

TreesFollowing the guidance provided by FGRP’s Lee Mueller, “we identified sites for the trees in response to requests by neighbors” said Kathy. Together, Kathy and Susan confirmed all planting locations, recruit volunteers, secure tools and plant material, and plant a total of 17 trees within Ottawa Hills.
Neighbors gathered on the afternoon of Sunday, October 20 to dig holes prior to the arrival of the trees. A large truck arrived on the morning of October 21, and neighbors gathered to plant 12 trees. Twelve Due to an error in shipment, the remaining trees arrived on Thursday and were planted by the neighborhood on Friday morning.

Kathy praised FGRP’s mini-grant program and neighborhood support. “Friends of Grand Rapids Parks was invaluable in our project. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without their help” said Kathy. Both would recommend the program to other neighborhoods for tree planting, maintenance, or similar efforts.

While the support FGRP provided was helpful, Kathy and Susan did the real work. They have become valuable  participants in FGRP’s Citizen Forester program and important assets to their neighborhood. Their work identifying planting locations, coordinating volunteers, and making arrangements for the project were critical in ensuring a successful effort.

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