Russell Moore, Engineering consultant, Soldotna, AK

portrait-Russell-Moore[1]Trees on Former Maintenance Site Reduce Runoff and Improve View

When Russell Moore’s parents built their home on Soldotna Creek, he says you could look over the water and see vegetation except at the Department of Transportation maintenance yard where the trees were gone.

In 2013, the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department undertook a transformation project at the site to enlarge Soldotna Creek Park, a recreational area on the Kenai River. With a grant from the U.S. Forest Service administered by the Alaska Division of Forestry, trees were planted with the intent of the site serving as a large rain garden, reducing surface water runoff into the adjoining waterways.

figure1-Russell-Moore[1]When Russell heard of the project, he was excited and jumped into the project to personally participate. Russell and community members are thrilled with the results. “I can now see the trees from across the river. They are going to grow, and as they mature, they will have the presence the community will enjoy when they visit the park. For those who live across the river, the trees will help enhance their view to the other side.” He adds, “I feel good to have been a part of the park’s renovation and to know that people beyond us will be able to enjoy it.”

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Barbara O’Brien, Retired librarian, Tucson, AZ

Pathway Planting Leads to Safer and Friendlier Neighborhood

portrait-Barbara-O'Brien[1]“I always wanted to be a forest ranger, but I became a librarian,” says Barbara O’Brien. Now, she says, “I’m a mini-forest ranger.”

Barbara’s chance to work with trees in the great outdoors came when Trees for Tucson, the City of Tucson and the Broadmoor- Broadway Village Neighborhood Association’s Urban Forestry Committee joined forces to transform a rocky, six-block-long dirt pathway into one that was more attractive, less prone to crime and more easily walked by senior citizens. The result is a paved walkway with palo verde, desert willows and other drought-tolerant native trees on one side and – under utility lines on the other side – a variety of desert flowers and shrubs donated by gardeners in the area.figure1-Barbara-O'Brien[1]

Besides the physical transformation, less crime and increased use for exercise and fresh air, the benefits from this project came from having neighbors do the planting. Work days, as well as tours and special events, continue to be scheduled along the pathway. Barbara reports, “Neighbors from here and from blocks away come out on a Sunday or Saturday with shovels and go to work. You’re meeting people you wouldn’t meet ordinarily because your paths don’t cross. I’ve lived here for 25 years, and I’ve known neighbors who live close by. But now I know people blocks away.”

 

Tery Hursh, Physician Assistant and Clinic Owner, Dillon, MT

Trees Bring People Downtown

portrait-Tery-Hursh[1]Street trees are making downtown Dillon, Montana a destination, according to 20-year resident Tery Hursh.

Businesses and civic organizations in the 4,132-person town have joined with the Dillon Tree Board to plant trees and enhance the landscaping along Atlantic Street in the downtown business corridor.

City leaders see the new trees as an example of how the expertise and commitment of the Tree Board has shown the city the value of trees, while adding vibrancy and foot traffic to the downtown corridor.

figure1-Tery-Hursh[1]“I hear positive comments every week from patients about the beauty that the trees have brought to downtown,” says Tery, who works in the area.

Citizen participation helped make the transformation happen. In one weekend, more than 20 volunteers transformed that downtown street.

Funding for the trees was provided by a grant from Montana’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Were it not for this critical support, visitors and residents would lose out on the benefits of street trees in town’s main commercial district.figure2-Tery-Hursh[1]

“The trees have brought beauty, slowed erosion and made the community safer,” Tery adds.

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Paul Weckman & Emily Wolff, restaurant owners, Covington, KY

Trees Bring People Downtown to Shop and Dine

portrait-Paul-Weckman[1]When Paul Weckman and Emily Wolff opened Otto’s restaurant, they selected downtown Covington because they value the historical significance of its 1850s structures. But something was missing.

“The neighborhood didn’t seem complete without trees,” Paul says. To do their part in restoring trees to the business district, the owners of Otto’s and a neighboring restaurant entered a partnership with the city. The resulting project transformed four parking spaces into a new outdoor dining area with trees.

figure1-Paul-Weckman[1]The cost of the project was split 50/50 between the city and the businesses, and the newly designed spaces proved seating for 25 additional customers and changed the ambiance of the street. City officials work with business owners to enhance the customer experience throughout the area.

“These trees created a desirable outdoor dining area and increased overall traffic,” says Paul. “Significantly more people are visiting the area for dining, shopping and strolling.”

figure2-Paul-Weckman[1]Were it not for this innovative private/public partnership, this historic business district would have missed out on increased vibrancy and people.

“We tell our staff that our restaurant should look like a beautiful painting,” Paul adds. “Trees make that possible.”

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Evan Matszuyama, student, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Tree Planting Helps Preserve Culture

portrait-Evan-Matszuyama[1]When Evan Matszuyama was 8, he would accompany his mother to classes at the University of Hawaii. There he came to know Dr. Richard Stevens who spent years bringing Hawaiian communities together to plant native trees throughout the islands.

Dr. Stevens’ influence was so great that Evan is now working to become a university professor and follow in the footsteps of his mentor. He has also gained an understanding of the significance of natural habitats in cultural traditions and the need to preserve or restore native vegetation.

figure2-Evan-Matszuyama[1]“Aside from physically giving back to my community by planting, I’ve gained an understanding of the value of diverse indigenous species that are fragile and need to be preserved,” says Evan. Through the work of Dr. Stevens more than 10,000 trees have been planted by students, veterans and citizens around veterans’ memorials, in communities, and in rural landscapes.

figure1-Evan-Matszuyama[1]Most of these projects would not have been possible without funding and technical assistance provided by Hawaii’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. As Evan continues his education, Dr. Stevens’ good influence lives on and bodes well for the future. Through the connection of teaching and tree planting, indigenous trees are being restored and preservation of Hawaiian culture is helping to enrich the land and its people.

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Celia Garcia, Conservation Corps, Los Angeles, CA

A Single Mom Found a Good-Paying Job Planting Trees for the City of Los Angeles.

portrait-Celia-Garcia[1]Planting trees changed Celia Garcia’s life. A high school drop-out and single mom with two children, she faced bleak career prospects and worried about paying her bills before she connected with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

It was not a passion for trees that brought Celia to the Corps, a city jobs training program aimed at struggling young adults. Rather, Celia was drawn to the possibility of completing her high-school education and finding meaningful work.

Celia not only found a job, she began building a career. After finishing her coursework, she gained valuable experience in the Corps’ tree nursery. Later, she started working on the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Million Trees LA project, contacting residents to gauge their interest in new trees along their property and then following through with the planting herself.

figure1-Celia-Garcia[1]“You can see your work grow,” Celia said, with pride. “Once we plant a tree in a school or a parkway, I can go back in the future and say, ‘I planted that tree.'” Since 1986, more than 1,300 young adults each year have benefited from the Corps’ job training and educational opportunities.

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Dave Bowman, Retired U.S. Air Force pilot, Fayetteville AR

The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

portrait-Dave-Bowman[1]The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

“Sometimes as many as 1,000 people a day use the trails,” says Dave Bowman, a member of the volunteer Trail Trekkers that serve as ‘eyes and ears’ for the city.

“It’s the best thing since peanut butter,” Dave laughs. He credits trees, which were planted deliberately to enhance the recreational experience, for making the trail special.

figure2-Dave-Bowman[1]“I’ve seen trails that just go through grass, and that’s no way to do it,” he says, whereas trees provide shade, a windbreak and a feeling of being in the country. “They offer a chance for people to get back to nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.” One youngster counted 300 bird species in one year.

As the caregiver for two family members, Dave is especially grateful for the several days each week he spends on the trails. “You see a lot of smiling faces,” he says.

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Wayne Miles, Pastor, Blades, Delaware

A Removed Tree Goes on Serving

portrait-Wayne-Miles[1]For years, Pastor Wayne Miles worried about a large street tree next to his Baptist church. The tree was buckling the sidewalk creating a tripping hazard and its roots threatened the building’s foundation.

It wasn’t until a city official suggested he contact Mandy Tolino that something was done about the problem. Mandy was Wilmington’s newly hired urban forestry administrator, a position funded with start-up money from the U.S. Forest Service. Within a week, Mandy arranged to have the tree removed, the roots ground up, the sidewalk repaired and a new tree planted.

Pastor Miles saw another benefit from the experience. “They cut up the wood,” he says. “The nice part about that was that a man who had just been let go from his job asked us for the wood. He had a small child and winter was coming on.”

“Maybe this tree had a purpose,” reflects Pastor Miles. “When there is a conscientious-minded administration and sincere people like Mandy, then they can blend that together where man can coexist in terms of what God has provided us in nature.”

Pastor Miles sees the old tree as “there for a blessing.” He also reports that his congregation is delighted with the new tree and it will be there providing even more benefits for many generations.

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Jason Worley, Technology manager, Deutsche Bank

Trees Transform Mixed-Use Commercial Property

portrait-Jason-Worley[1]An un-used air field in Jacksonville, Florida is being converted to a mixed-use commercial area, but thanks to Greenscapes of Jacksonville and its partners, part of the barren area is being restored to native habitat. With the help of Deutsche Bank, the Florida Forest Service and the city forestry department, 6,000 longleaf pines are being planted.

figure1-Jason-Worley[1]As a participant in the project, Jason Worley says, “I want to build a generation of stewards who can see how important it is to restore areas to their natural state.” He notes early success of the project saying, “When we checked back we already saw mammals and reptiles back in the space.” Jason believes this project will benefit not only the area’s wildlife, but also his family and future generations.

figure2-Jason-Worley[1]Jason says there was a role for everyone in the project, including local residents. The project required site preparation, fund-raising, managing a volunteer work force, equipment logistics, and professional forestry advice. The result is an area converted to a sustainable, natural forest that will benefit wildlife and local residents of all ages while at the same time enhancing nearby commercial property.

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Frances Oyung, Coordinator, Bear Creek Watershed Council

portrait-Frances-Oyung[1]Trees Save Endangered Fish

The shading affect of trees not only provides comfort for people, but also ensures the survival of cold water fish. Frances Oyung heads a collaborative effort to reduce the hot glare of summer sun on this important tributary of the Rogue River.

“Shade from trees is the primary factor in reducing the creek’s temperature and keeping salmon alive,” says Frances. Through a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Frances and her partners have planted more than 600 native trees, including cottonwoods, Oregon ash, alders and a variety of conifers.

figure1-Frances-Oyung[1]Were it not for support from state officials, Bear Creek would be overheated and fish would be unable to survive.

The overall goal is to reverse the effect of 150 years of land uses that have led to a high level of stress on coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

figure2-Frances-Oyung[1]“It is a slow process and gargantuan job,” says Frances. But the cooling effect of restored trees is already making a difference.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear it!

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