Urban Tree Canopy Project

May 2020

This project was funded by a GLRI (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) grant with the support of the SJRBC, ReLeaf Michigan, the Michigan DNR, the Indiana DNR, and Davey Resource Group. The funding allowed six local communities to receive urban tree canopy assessments that will identify the most promising locations to plant trees for the mitigation of stormwater. The funding will also provide 50 mature trees for each community.

Angola, Middlebury, and Syracuse in Indiana, and Buchanan, Coldwater, and Sturgis in Michigan were the beneficiaries of the project. The assessments included strategic planting guidelines that would result in improved water quality. Municipal leaders will be meeting with project partners to walk through the details of the assessments and receive training for successful planting, volunteer recruitment and educating the public on the work that has been done.

Overall, this project will benefit the basin in several ways. Mature trees are major contributors in stormwater mitigation and absorb much of our annual rainwater. Without them, the water goes to the storm drains, the river, etc. with everything it has picked up along the way that may be harmful to the water quality. They can also save our communities thousands of dollars through energy savings, reducing stormwater runoff, and filtering air pollution. The Alliance for Community Trees “Benefits of Trees and Urban Forests” report includes many examples of how trees save us money.

For example, “Urban greening in Washington, DC, prevents over 1.2 billion gallons of stormwater from entering the sewer system, 10% of the total volume. This represents a savings of $4.74 billion in gray infrastructure costs per 30-year construction cycle.” Although there are costs associated with planting and maintaining an urban tree canopy, the savings far outweigh the costs.

The St. Joseph River Basin Commission provided $3,750 to support the development of custom assessments for things like canopy health and stormwater catchment basin analysis in four of the six communities.

Ultimately, 50 trees will be planted in each community in locations that were identified as high priorities for stormwater mitigation. To learn more and see the results of the assessments, visit the project website.

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