Great new things at the Urban Forest Project

By: Lee Mueller
For two and a half years I’ve had the pleasure to work with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and all our wonderful volunteers to build a program that’s garnered state and national attention. While the program continues to develop and grow, it has already made a demonstrated impact on our community’s urban forest.

Since its start in 2012, the Urban Forest Project has grown to plant nearly 400 trees, contribute 3,500 volunteer hours, and involve 1,200 citizens in over 50 events each year. It’s been an amazing ride, but now it’s time to let someone else take this program even further.

Late last year, I accepted a position with Davey Resource Group, a division of The Davey Tree Expert Company. Moving forward, I will be working with people, communities, and institutions across Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota to help provide the tools and resources they need to better care for their trees and other natural resources.

Since November, the entire Friends of Grand Rapids Parks staff and myself have been working diligently to manage the transition of the Urban Forest Project, and to seek an energetic individual to continue coordinating the program. Later this month, we will be pleased to welcome Margaret Studer to the Friends’ family just in time to put together a great Spring program for our community.

While my focus will become more regional in nature, I will continue to remain involved in Grand Rapids through the Urban Forestry Committee and the Parks Advisory Board. I will also be found volunteering to plant trees and do my part to protect, enhance, and expand Grand Rapids’ urban forest. In short, I’m not going anywhere. Instead, I like to think of this change as expanding “the table” of tree partners in Grand Rapids. We’re simply attracting more people to our community to help grow a larger, healthier, urban forest.

I’ll see you at the next tree planting. In the meantime, you can reach me at MuellerL@gmail.com


By: Margaret Studer
I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to work with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and to continue the great work accomplished over the last two years by the Urban Forest Project. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with extraordinary natural resource professionals from a variety of backgrounds and I am excited to bring my passion and experience to Grand Rapids.

Like Lee, I am a Registered Forester with the State of Michigan. I graduated from Michigan State University where I specialized in forest science and environmental studies. Most recently, I was employed as a Forester with the Traverse City Unit of the Department of Natural Resources. Prior to this, I worked almost exclusively on the Flint Forestry Project as the Genesee Conservation District Forester. The Flint Forestry Project was a multi-part project that involved street and park tree inventories, hazardous tree abatement, annual community tree plantings, tree sales, and community outreach events. Particularly, I was instrumentally involved in developing a wood utilization program that received wide attention from across the region.

I am particularly eager to get to know Grand Rapids’ communities and Friends’ volunteers. I want to make sure that not only the needs of the parks are met, but also the needs of the community that utilizes these parks are addressed. Additionally, I look forward to bringing some of my own ideas and passions to this position. Working with the citizens of the City of Flint and the metropolitan area was one of the most rewarding aspects of my career, as well as my involvement in urban wood utilization. Wood utilization is expanding rapidly across the country, especially as demand for local and reclaimed wood continues to grow, and Grand Rapids is well positioned to take part.



Margaret Studer


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