Trees have countless benefits: they provide visual appeal, produce oxygen, sequester CO2, intercept airborne particulates, reduce smog, enhance public health, cool the air, filter water, capture and slow rainfall, recharge the aquifer, reduce water runoff, prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitat, decrease noise pollution, reduce crime, slow traffic, increase property values, enhance neighborhoods, attract businesses, increase tourism, encourage social interaction, provide places for recreation, increase quality of life.
NMEAC understands the importance of supporting our urban and natural forests to maximize the benefits from trees. Recent issues have involved the cutting of trees along Bluff Road by the Road Commission to extend road surface life, the cutting of trees on city property beside the airport to build the new Costco, the removal of trees for both the Vineyards Ridge Development and the proposed 81 on East Bay development. These actions have taken place without inviting community input.
We believe it is important to consider forestry issues a priori when planning, zoning, and building decision are made. A well-researched plan and program needs to be created for new tree planting. A survey of TC’s urban forest that identifies the number and types of tree species present, the extent of the tree canopy, and the health of existing trees needs to be undertaken to support our environment and to maximize our well-being and the quality of our lives.
Image: Christian Collins
Letter from NMEAC to Traverse City City Commissioners and Planning Commissioners
To: Traverse City City Commisioners and Planning Commissioners
NMEAC has in its mission statement the words “education and action”.
Over our almost 40 years we have been at the forefront of informing, protecting, and sometimes mitigating on behalf of the environment.
Our forums on the Climate Crisis, our campaigning for green renewable energy, protection of water and air, are now foremost. Given that CO2 mitigation is critical , we have advocated for years for a Tree Ordinance, the planting of native trees, and an urban forestry specialist to administer it. (We sent letters in 2016 and 2018 and they are attached here.)
We have had a member of our board at every Ad Hoc Tree Committee meeting, but were only allowed one minute at the start of each meeting to advocate for the trees. Never the less we persisted, and we thank the committee for their time and efforts.
Now there is an ordinance before you waiting for your adoption. No, it isn’t perfect, but it is a start. We urge you to endorse it. We also urge you to hire the necessary specialist, and do the massive education needed to inform our citizens of the critical importance of trees. Our health, and the health of the environment, including the Bay and the Boardman-Ottaway River , depend on the needed protection. These are also needed to comply with our designation as a Tree City.
We will continue to advocate solutions for all the issues that impact our environment, and the health of all who live and visit here. Without our unique natural features, we would be just another “anyplace “ USA.
Ann Rogers, Co-Chair of NMEAC
Forum in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, November 13, 2018
Trees are the answer to our pollution problem
BY ANN ROGERS
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get done. It is not.”
— Dr. Seuss
I do care about people and the planet, both of which are under attack from our lack of response to climate change.
Our children and grandchildren areespecially vulnerable to the impacts of increasing air pollution and more serious storms.
Changing a light bulb has minimal impact, but going all out to maintain and expand our urban forests will have an enormous positive effect. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked by governments.
Planting trees is the most cost effective means of drawing CO2 from the atmosphere. Trees also constantly work to absorb lead, nickel, sulfur dioxide and cadmium from the air. Research has shown a 60 percent reduction in toxins from car exhausts on streets lined with trees. One mature tree can provide enough oxygen for two people; they are the lungs of the earth. Urban forests also have a positive effect on health by reducing skin cancer, hypertension and asthma. This is especially important for children in order to prevent harm to their cognitive development.
Trees cool in summer (less need for air conditioners), reduce wind speed, manage and help purify storm water and even reduce crime with their calming influence.
With 90 percent of our entire population living within boundaries of community forests, it has been estimated that the value of these services is $400 billion a year.
For every $1 spent on trees, $2.70 in benefits is received (United States Forest Service). Property values are increased for both residential and commercial properties. If we destroy trees we are hurting ourselves both in health and economics.
An urban forest must have three components: 1. A variety of ages and native species from a reputable source.
2. A comprehensive management plan, with attention to soils, nutrients, air and water.
3. Community-wide appreciation and support.
We have fine-tuned nature out of the urbanplanning process with our focus on buildings and asphalt; now we need to examine the ways we interact with, and support, natural resources.
Greater awareness is required if we are tobe sustainable. Interactive stakeholder events, educational programs in schools, media and marketing are all needed. Ecological stewardship is critical for our future.
We must act, sleep and breathe, remembering that it is the environment that sustains us.
For myself, I will follow the words of W.S. Merwin: “On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.”
About the author: Ann Rogers is the co-chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. She lives in Traverse City.
About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise.
Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@recordeagle. com. Please include biographical information and a photo.
Letter from NMEAC to Traverse City City Commissioners
August 20, 2018
A front page headline in the Record-Eagle on July 26, 2018, says it all: Tree Cover Receding: Hitting Every Great Lakes State except Minnesota. I am enclosing a copy so you can read for yourselves all the reasons. This is foreboding, and a warning.
Trees are not just for aesthetics; their value is priceless. Holding soil, mitigating climate change, providing habitat for birds and other animals, muffling noise and dusty winds.
TC is supposed to be Tree City, but over the last decades we have seen more and more cutting of large canopy trees including on the Costco property, next to Bardon’s (where a bluff was denuded), and now a huge swath at Hickory Hills , plus the loss of many neighborhood trees. And let’s not forget the 45 acres at the Moorings that were cut and stumped without a city permit.
NMEAC has lobbied for years for the city to increase plantings and employ an arborist/forester to advise and protect our urban forest.. We are writing again to plead for a tree ordinance, more tree planting, and the hiring of a specialist to select, protect and improve this valuable asset.
Grand Rapids is planting 240,000 native trees. We can do better.
We will continue to monitor this and will not be satisfied until we hear of your commitment.
Ann Rogers, NMEAC co chair
Greg Reisig, NMEAC co-chair
Letter from NMEAC to Traverse City City Commissioners
October 13, 2016
To: Mayor Jim Carruthers and City Commissioners
From: Northern Mi Environmental Action Council
NMEAC is very concerned about the entire tree cutting on Garfield Avenue.
We understand the need for trimming under power lines, but this seems to have gone way beyond with the negotiations with private property owners and the resultant cutting on their property. After board discussion we felt there needs to be a total investigation and an explanation. NMEAC also requests a prompt response to this letter.
NMEAC has come before you many times to ask that you really comply with the designation of Tree City. With no one on staff to oversee appropriate tree planting and maintenance, we are concerned that the urban forest of Traverse City is not only compromised but that it is greatly diminished. Traverse City is also in urgent need of a tree ordinance that would include notifying city residents of any major tree cutting
Those of you who attended Mayor George Hartwell’s talk know that Grand Rapids has an office of “Sustainability and Environment”, and that one of their goals is the planting of 196,000 trees. Traverse City needs to commit to caring more for its outdoor environment by hiring a qualified person and planting the trees that make us sustainable. The health of the environment and our health depend on it.
Ann Rogers, co-chair