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CITY TREE CHAMPIONS FROM ALL OVER LAUDED FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO THEIR NEIGHBORS
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.
- Distinguished Service: The winner is Laura DeGolier of Fond du Lac. Laura logged many hours of volunteer work and leadership in maintaining the Greenway Arboretum and its hundreds of trees. She also was key with the recruiting and coordinating of other volunteers while always being the tireless volunteer advocate for natural resources including invasive species removal, water sampling, landscape and trail maintenance at two city parks, and spearheading the city's efforts to become a Bird City Wisconsin.
- Project Partnership. There are two winners this year. They are:
- Sparta High School Earth Club which partnered with Century Foods International of Sparta, the City of Sparta, Polar Bears International and Milwaukee County Zoo for award-winning projects combined recycling, grants, and old fashioned fundraising to benefit the City of Sparta's forestry program. The group's efforts resulted in a long-term partnership project that has resulted in a healthier and more diverse urban forest. It has had tremendous impact on the community's trees to the tune of approximately $23,000 over 10 years.
- Menasha and CN for the "30 for 30 Partnership Project. While celebrating 30 years as a Tree City USA, the city, CN (Canadian National Railroad) and numerous volunteer groups teamed up to improve the long-term health and diversity of the urban forest, provide education and promote community ownership of the trees. As a result, 240 trees were planted 30 in each of the City's aldermanic districts and more than 100 volunteers participated.
- Innovation: This award recognizes the creativity, commitment and success of urban forestry efforts. There also are two winners in this category. They are:
- Bob Wesp, Dwayne Sperber and City of Milwaukee for Urban Wood Utilization. Urban Wood Utilization is taking on a higher profile for several reasons. Promoting the best use of what has been called wood waste in the past is becoming more crucial with time and this team has been innovative and working hard at developing a market for urban wood resulting from necessary tree removals. It has resulted in less wood going into landfills and a higher use of our urban resources.
- Mequon Nature Preserve Reforestation Program. This program involves planting thousands of trees, invasive species removal, new walking trails, and an environmental science program. Goals include restoring forest canopy, contributing to research, addressing environmental concerns, and increasing biodiversity of an urban forest. The Mequon Nature Preserve serves more than one million people who live throughout the metropolitan Milwaukee area.
- Lifetime Achievement: Todd Ernster is the City Forester for the City of Stevens Point where he has worked for the past 25 years. Todd worked his way up through the ranks from arborist after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has continued a fine tradition of Tree City USA accomplishments. Responsible for authoring the city's specifications for protecting trees during construction activities, he has also developed brochures, signage on busses, website information, provided information to newspapers, the Park Board and the Common Council.
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