tree lovers: celebrating and growing the number of trees in grand rapids

Mayors tree of the year August 2014
One of the latest award winners in Grand Rapids isn’t a person but a nearly century-old American elm tree on 820 Monroe Ave. NW.

The tree was selected by the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project as the “Mayor’s Tree of the Year.” Past winners include a burr oak tree in Aberdeen Park and an ash tree on Wealthy Street.

Steve Faber, executive director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, said Grand Rapids is one of five cities in the nation with a crowd-sourced tree inventory.

“Anyone can enter data into our tree map. If they identify their tree and measure their circumference it will automatically generate an ecosystems value,” Faber said. “What we do is have people enter trees and submit them to the Urban Forestry Committee for the ‘Mayor’s Tree of the Year.'”

This year’s winner towers over a four-story building and is one of the only large trees in that area.

“The property is about to be redeveloped,” said Lee Mueller, project coordinator with the Urban Forest Project, an initiative of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. “In general it’s important to try to keep what we have.”

The contest is part of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and Grand Rapids Urban Forest’s overall efforts to plant and save more trees. Several workshops take place in the summer, gearing up for tree planting in October. These programs are designed to raise community awareness about the value of trees, which have social, environmental and economic benefits, according to Faber.

Upcoming August events include an “After Work Tree Time” 5 – 7 p.m. Aug. 5 meeting at 648 Monroe Ave. NW, The Stewardship Network’s for “Contemporary Issues in Forest Management” at the Wege Center in Lowell 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Aug. 8 and a “Tree Identification Workshop” Aug. 18 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Calvin College Bunker Interpretive Center, 1750 East Beltline Ave. SE.

The tree canopy goal for Grand Rapids is 40 percent and currently stands at 35 percent. Faber said the city has a preferred planting list of trees that do well in an urban environment. Grand Rapids has been a leader in West Michigan with its tree efforts with Mueller commending the work of the East Hills and Ottawa Hills neighborhoods for the organizations’ efforts in planting and preserving trees.

For more information visit www.urbanforestproject.com.

Back to Articles