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February 11, 2014

MADISON -- They hail from Fond du Lac, Sparta, Mequon, Stevens Point and Milwaukee. Their selfless work has brought economic, environmental and social benefits to their neighbors - and it all started with the trees up the street.

Every year about this time, the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council honors citizens, groups and communities for their hard work making sure there are healthy, thriving trees that can make a community unique and special.

Jeff Treu, chair of the council's award committee, says these local leaders take it upon themselves to care for a resource that many take for granted.

"Trees are beautiful, and knowing that, residents miss a tree when it is removed for reasons of health or safety. In addition to aesthetics, trees contribute to our health and well- being," Treu says. "These awards honor those who appreciate not only the beauty of trees, but in addition, how they help clean air, hold soil in place, increase property values, help manage storm water, and promote sustainability in our urban forest -- the forest where we live.

"Well-managed trees pay back to their home communities three-times the cost to plant and to maintain them," Treu says. "It must be noted that the work of these people, many of whom are volunteers, help their neighbors in economic ways as well."

In times of limited budgets, these award winners have helped stretch those limited dollars with volunteer labor and savings by keeping valuable resources from going into landfills. These savings have been plowed back into the community's urban forests that line streets, fill city parks and grace lawns.

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council waded through many worthy nominations and selected the following for the five awards that reflect their efforts in 2013. The awards were announced at the 2014 Wisconsin Arborist Association/DNR conference in Green Bay this January and will be presented in their individual communities at special events.

Interested in previous winners? Have ideas for nominees? The deadline for 2014 nominees is December 30. However, you can nominate your tree champions any time. Learn more by searching the DNR website for Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Wyatt, Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Liaison, 608-267-0568; Joanne M. Haas, DNR Division of Forestry public affairs, 608-209-8147

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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