MUSKEGON, MI – Trees provide a city more than just a beautiful streetscape but also improved storm water runoff, reduction of urban heat and improvement in overall community health.
Those and other positive effects in several City of Muskegon neighborhoods will result from a recent Consumers Energy Forestry Department $2,500 grant to the city’s Department of Public Works in conjunction with the Michigan Forestry and Parks Association.
The Consumers Energy grant allowed city crews to plant 25 trees in various right-of-way terraces in the city including across from Hackley Park along the Muskegon Community College student lot in Downtown Muskegon. DPW maintenance worker Dave Bailey said the city also was able to plant trees in terraces throughout the city where individual residents requested plantings.
The city selected among seven varieties of trees from local nursery that grow to heights that will not disrupt overhead public utility lines, are hearty and drought and salt tolerant, Bailey said. The trees – among 300-400 the city plants each year – are long-term investments that can take 50 years to fully mature, he said.
The young plantings are nurtured with “water bags” at the tree roots to provide consistent water and nutrients the first year or so, Bailey said.
“Studies have shown that communities with plenty of trees add to the residents’ overall health,” Bailey said in addition to other advantages.
Consumers Energy’s funding through its Community Street and Boulevard Tree Planting Grant Program is an important assistance to local municipalities in keeping their communities green, according to company forester Deborah Nichols. Grants are made by the public electric and natural gas utility to communities it serves.
“Consumers emphasizes appropriate tree planting locations, including consideration of overhead and underground utilities,” Nichols said. “We follow the ‘right tree, right place’ guidelines of the National Arbor Day Foundation.”
Consumers Energy—the electric utility for the City of Muskegon – funds the annual planting of 1,000 trees in communities throughout its service areas.