SHARE
City Forester encourages people and business to support the planting of trees in Hillsdale.

Since 2010, roughly 25 trees have been planted through the City of Hillsdale’s public-spon­sored tree planting program. But according to City Forester Gary Sta­chowicz, that’s still not nearly enough.

“The idea was if we have so many trees come down and only so much money to replace them, we would allow people or busi­nesses that were inter­ested to buy them for the city,” Sta­chowicz said.

People inter­ested in buying a tree for the city can order any tree from a number of species from one of four local nurs­eries. Donating money and letting the city pick out the tree is another option. The Hillsdale Garden Club has donated enough money in the past to plant 13 trees.

The cost of the tree is a one-time payment, as the cost of main­te­nance and pos­sible future removal of the trees is covered by the city.

“We try to do 25 to 40 trees a year,” Sta­chowicz said. “I don’t have a very big budget. The same money I plant trees with is the same money I hire con­tractors to do tree removal and tree trimming. About one or two trees a year come from the public tree planting program.”

Despite trying to pre­serve as many trees as pos­sible and plant new ones, some have to be removed, which increases the need for even more trees. Sta­chowicz said trees are removed if they’re “dead, dying, dis­eased, rotting, or over trimmed if they’re under power lines.”

But one major reason there is such a great demand for trees dates back to the 1990s and early 2000s: the emerald ash borer.

In 2014, the Lansing State Journal pub­lished an article about this deadly beetle, saying that “the ash borer has wiped out vir­tually every ash tree in southeast Michigan. In much of the rest of the state’s lower peninsula, there are few trees left to fight for.”

And fighting is just what Sta­chowicz is doing with this public-spon­sored tree planting program.

“I can’t imagine city streets not being lined with trees,” he said. “It’s just a dif­ferent way of life when you’re used to trees when you get the fall colors and the green in the spring.”

These trees aren’t just aes­thet­i­cally pleasing. They serve a greater purpose by increasing the cost-effi­ciency in homes and busi­nesses as well.

“Picture being out in the county some­where where you have a farm­house that might have three or four rows of conifer trees planted in a 90 degree angle to break wind,” Sta­chowicz said. “It helps the house with heating costs. And the shade helps with cooling costs in the summer.”

Similar to houses along the county roads, city streets lined with trees provide the same ben­efits to houses and busi­nesses.

This isn’t just a Michigan problem and the effects of the emerald ash borer have yet to be erased.

“This is still one of the front lines in the fight against an insect that has laid waste to more than 100 million ash trees from Mass­a­chu­setts to Col­orado and has another 8 billion or so waiting for it,” according to the Lansing State Journal.

Because this is national problem, national pro­grams have gotten involved, but their assis­tance since then has dimin­ished.

“The federal gov­ernment spent $2.2 billion in 2012 to combat invasive species and to prevent new entries. The USDA spent $26.8 million that year to fight the emerald ash borer,” the Lansing State Journal said. “In 2013, it spent just $10.7 million.”

It’s esti­mated that this pest costs the United States $1 billion each year, according the the Lansing State Journal. This is why cities need help from their com­mu­nities.

The cost of trees depends on their size, which is mea­sured by its caliper — the radius of its trunk six inches from the ground. Sta­chowicz requires a minimum of a two-inch caliper for trees, which typ­i­cally start out at $250 he said. It can go up from, some­times costing $600.

Sta­chowicz said he would like to plant at least 25 trees this spring, espe­cially by Ripon Ave, which lost 33 trees due to con­struction this past year.

“I can’t imagine every street looking like Rippon Avenue,” he said. “It just looks like a barren desert.”