Healthy Trees, Healthy Community: White Cloud Gets ‘Treed’
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
Meeting your first newborn, watching a graduation exercise, or joining a bunch of civic minded townsfolk to plant trees will certainly get you thinking about the future.
Recently City Manager Lora Kalkofen partnering with the DTE Energy Foundation and ReLeaf Michigan obtained 15 excellent trees to be planted in various locations around White Cloud. Then she sent invitations to a tree planting party to be held on Saturday October 8th.
About two dozen of the usual suspects gathered at City Hall around 8:00 AM for coffee, the obligatory donuts and a tree planting briefing by Michael Graham. Mr. Graham is a professional Urban Forestry Consultant and...
...the representative from Releaf Michigan. Releaf is a nonprofit 501c3 statewide volunteer organization with the mission to educate the public on the value of trees, and how to properly select, plant, and maintain them. The organization was established in 1988 with headquarters in Ann Arbor and over time they have concluded that planting trees help build better communities.
“Trees improve our quality of life by reducing noise pollution and beautify our urban areas,” they state.
Further they argue that “Greener urban areas have been shown to encourage healthier interaction between neighbors and been proven to reduce graffiti and crime.Trees have a calming effect and drivers slow down while driving through neighborhoods with trees.”
All valuable qualities….. especially during this current political season.
After adequate coffee and donut consumption the planting crew led by Consultant Graham proceeded up the hill to the White Cloud Airport for a demonstration of proper tree planting methods. The White Cloud Department of Public Works had dug the initial holes, and set the trees along side. The nursery stocks were top quality Black Gum, Clump Amur Maple, Sugar Tyme Crabapple and a Sweet Gum all provide by Great Lakes Landscape.
The shovel crew included Mayor Barnhard, Manager Kalkofen, the Daults, Mr. Mike Kimes, the DPW Crew, City Hall Staff, and representing the Rotary Club, Mr. Woody Bowmen, his son Enrique, County Treasurer Holly Moon and others. The crews with the backhoe helped set the trees and completed the backfill. It was a perfect brisk fall morning and the talk and work was lively with frequent pointers from Consultant Graham and visits to the back of Manager Kalkofen’s SUV for additional coffee and donuts.
During the planting the N3 Correspondent had an opportunity to discuss urban forestry best practices with Mr. Graham. He suggested that you always consider the right tree for the right place with an eye to the the future state of the area and to match your plantings to soil types, location or lot size. He suggested that you not plant tall species or those with large crowns under overhead wires or along lot lines and to always plant a variety of trees.
According to Mr. Graham the reason for the variety is because you never know what invasive insect or pathogen will appear next. He mentions the Emerald Ash Borer infestation that has decimated our Michigan Ash trees as case in point. He stressed that you must always protect you new plantings from deer and weed whips.
After planting about 10 trees alongside the new White Cloud Airport the crew moved back down the hill to the Smith and White Cloud Rotary Park for addition plantings. On the way to the parks Mr. Graham was invited to take a short detour to view one of White Cloud’s big trees.
The Releaf Michigan Organization has a program call the Big Tree Hunt whereby they “engage people in a fun search for the biggest trees in the state.” The Organization uses Mr. Graham to measure and certify the Big Trees. The White Cloud tree in question is a Seedless Honey Locust located on White Cloud Library property. After inspecting the Locust Mr. Graham concluded that it was the largest specimen that he had seen and it should be entered in the Big Tree Hunt contest and fenced to protect it from construction or other types of damage.
After the last trees were planted in the parks Manager Kalkofen thanked the crew and Mr. Graham and all expressed wishes that future White Cloud residents would enjoy the beautiful trees and would someday pay it forward by doing the same at a similar future event.
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