By Jan Worth-Nelson
Flint is one of 3,400 city nationwide to be named a 2018 “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation. It was the 18th year in a row for the city to receive the designation.
To celebrate, staff of the Genesee Conservation District, managers of the city’s urban treescape, planted 300 seedlings this spring, distributed in four locations: Longway Park, Atherton Park, Cronin Park and the Haskell Center.
Angela Warren, GCD administrator, said the plantings occurred in collaboration with a donor, the Flint-based Genusee Eyewear, who contributed mulch and labor for the spring planting. Warren said seedlings selected covered many varieties–hardwoods like river birch, black gum, sugar maple, red oak, swamp white oak and sycamore– and conifers like cedar, concolor fir, red pine, white pine and Norway spruce.
There is no monetary award for the designation but, Warren said, “It’s a good news story–it’s a point of pride for a city that endures so much bad news so much of the time.”
Part of the designation allows the city to post signs provided by the Arbor Day Foundation for $65 each. This year the GCD purchased 12 signs and city workers installed them in central locations where people come and go to “celebrate the distinction and raise awareness,” Warren said.
To qualify to be a “Tree City USA,” a city must meet four criteria: to have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry budget of at least two dollars per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Warren said qualifying expenditures by the GCD included tree planting, initial care, tree maintenance, tree removals, management, emerald ash borer management, and in-kind volunteer efforts–totalling $225,000. Using a 2016 population estimate of 97,300, covering the City of Flint, the city met more than the two dollar per capita criterion.
The Genesee Conservation District is an entity of state government — one of 78 such conservation districts in the state — making its relationship with the City of Flint a public-public collaborative partnership. It is governed by a five-member elected board. After a several-year period of controversy, primarily with the College Cultural Neighborhood Association (CCNA) whose members were alarmed about widespread removal of their aging city-owned tree canopy, the last GCD election drew hundreds of voters to an election.
The GCD plays a central role in keeping track of the city’s trees, while City of Flint Street Maintenance takes care of downed or dangerous tree removals in consultation with the GCD foresters. Residents needing help with a downed or dangerous tree should call City of Flint Street Maintenance at (810)-766-7343, according to Warren. City of Flint officials can do some immediate tree removal, she said, while assessment for follow-up needs goes through the city to the GCD.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.