City of Marshfield Celebrates 35 Years as a “Tree City USA”
For the 35th consecutive year, the City of Marshfield was named a “Tree City USA.”
A nationwide movement devoted to proper urban forestry management and sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, Tree City USA status is based on the following four criteria: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.
“We are proud to be a Tree City and recognize that trees provide incredible value in making our community a better place,” said Mayor Chris Meyer. “Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but trees can reduce energy costs, help create a cleaner environment, and increase the values of our homes.”
In 2016, the City of Marshfield planted 36 trees and pruned 500 trees, for a per capita expenditure of $11.19.
“It’s a longstanding run that feels great,” said Street Superintendent Mike Winch of the 35-year record, whose department manages the City’s urban forestry program.
“We are fortunate to have some passionate and dedicated people managing our urban forest,” said Meyer. “While we sometimes fall short of being able to replace every tree we remove in a given year, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to increase how far we can stretch the funding for new trees provided by the common council in the annual budget process.”
Winter is the ideal time for pruning and tending to trees, but because the same crew that is involved in snow plowing is also dedicated to urban forestry, it can be challenging to devote time to tree care. Despite the challenges, however, the Street Division staff is dedicated to the cause and always makes it a priority.
“With our forestry program, we get done as much as we can,” said Winch. “We prune and we will go out and follow-up on call-ins. If it’s spring or summer and the tree is not a hazard, we will wait until winter because that is better for the tree.”
Despite its dedication to urban forestry, the City does receive criticism for tree removal. However, citizens are encouraged to remember that tree removal is carefully managed, and done with public safety in mind.
“The criteria that goes into whether we remove a tree or not on the terrace is if they are going to inhibit something, like construction, heaved sidewalks, roots getting into the drain tile or mill-in-place, vision triangle clearing at intersections to reduce traffic accidents, etc, Sometimes we have to remove trees for sewer replacement,” said Winch. “Also, if the tree outgrows the area that they are planted in and you see dieback in the tree or if it is really starting to fail, we need to remove it.”
“Trees are not removed arbitrarily,” added Meyer. “When trees are removed because of a road project, we strive to replace the trees removed with new trees. When they are proactively removed to prevent the spread of disease, we again work toward replacing them with trees best suited to the location they are being planted.”
“We like trees just as much as anybody else,” added Winch. “However, we do have to take trees down for construction and disease.”
Of the latter, Emerald Ash Borer is perhaps the biggest threat to trees in the community.
“The most recent concern has been emerald ash borer and we have selectively removed some trees, and treated others as we attempt to continue to preserve the Ash trees we have in Marshfield,” said Meyer. “While it has not been found in Marshfield yet, last year both Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens point had confirmed cases of Emerald Ash Borer, so we will likely see it in Marshfield soon, if we haven’t already.”
A grant-funded study conducted by Bluestem Forestry Consulting Inc. entitled “Urban Forestry Plan and Tree Inventory Summary” provides the basis for many tree-related decisions made by the City.
“There’s some really good information in the study that we use regularly,” said Winch. “They documented species, size, condition, provided a photo and recommendation, as well as GIS mapped all of the trees in the City. “That was very helpful.”
On May 4, the City of Marshfield celebrated Arbor Day by planting a basswood linden tree at Lincoln Elementary School, with help from the third grade classes. Each year, Marshfield’s Mayor has participated in the festivities, and this year marked Meyer’s 10th (and last) year celebrating Arbor Day.
“This has always ranked as one of my highlights of the year because it involves schools kids and talking with them about the importance of trees as they learn how to properly plant a tree,” said Meyer. “Each child that attends is given a small tree to take home to plant as well. In my time as Mayor, talking with school children has always been a highlight, from tree plantings to Spring tours of City Hall; these are some of the ‘duties’ of Mayor I will miss the most.”
This year’s planting also included a special presentation by Don Kissinger, Forestry Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, on the proper way to plant and care for a tree. Kissinger also presented Mayor Meyer with a commemorative flag to celebrate 35 years of being a Tree City USA.
“The fact that we have been a tree City for 35 years is testament to the fact that we are committed to not only maintaining our trees, but expanding the number of trees we have and the overall health of our tree stock,” said Meyer.
“In the future, I hope the Common Council continues to provide funding for trees in our community and even expand it from the roughly $12,000 committed annually today,” he added. “It has been the commitment by the Council and the dedication of our employees that has allowed Marshfield to be a Tree City for 35 years.”
Citizens who notice a dying tree can call Marshfield Street Division at 715-384-3606.