City Trees

July/August 2011

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Partners Updates State Coordinators Creative Partnerships in Wisconsin by Dick Rideout, Wisconsin State Urban Forestry Coordinator I n this era of shrinking state and municipal budgets and a challenging private sector economy, “partner- ship” is the name of the game to get more urban forestry done. I’ve just returned from a meeting with my counterparts, and let me tell you, there are a lot of amazing and creative alliances out there! In hopes of inspiring your creativity, I’d like to share a few of those happening in Wisconsin–some we’re facilitating and some that are germinating on their own. Funding Almost without exception, community foresters list sustainable funding as their most pressing challenge. The city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin (population 63,000) came up with one solution. In 2009, the majority of par- ticipants in the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation’s Vision Survey indicated that they wanted to see a com- munity with more trees, wider terraces, and unified streetscapes. The Foundation worked with the city of Oshkosh and Ranger Services Inc, a regional tree service, to create and implement the Taking Root Fund and set a goal to raise $500,000 to plant trees. Because of the commu- nity visioning support of the concept, Oshkosh raised the money in about nine months and planted 1000 trees in 2010. With that success under their belts, they raised their goal to $1 million to endow the fund for long-term support of tree planting and care. Now, nearby communities are jumping on board too: see Bird City Wisconsin Logo • Courtesy of Bird City Wisconsin All states have a state urban forestry council. In Wisconsin, our council members began developing relationships with state legislators a number of years ago in an effort to raise awareness of the contributions of urban forests. They used the results of Wisconsin’s statewide urban forest assessment (see City Trees May/June 2011 edition) to convert the value of the state’s community trees into dollars and cents and to demonstrate the economic threat of invasives such as emerald ash borer (EAB). In 2009, when the governor’s budget eliminated the state’s $530,000 annual urban forestry grant program, the council sprang into action. Members used their existing relationships with their leg- islators to show the local impact on communities and succeeded in restoring 99% of the grant program (see Planting Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy (in suit) helps plant a First Down Tree. • Courtesy of the Green Bay Packers 22 As in other states, tree planting attracts a lot of attention in Wisconsin, but not as much as the World Champion Green Bay Packers. Combine the two and you’ve really got something. The Packers’ environmentally focused “Green Team” wanted to offset the carbon from travel to away games; it approached the local utility, Wisconsin Public Service Corp, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to figure out how. The Packers wanted to link the project to team performance, so First Downs for Trees was born. For every first down the team earned, the Packers would plant a tree in a local com- munity. Everyone wanted a “Packer Tree,” so 22 com- City Trees

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