From left, Grosse Pointe Farms Beautification Advisory Commission member Kendra Bickford, City Manager Shane Reeside, Beautification Advisory Commission member Andy Llewellyn, city forester Jacques Beaudoin, Beautification Advisory Commission member Sierra Leone Donaven and Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Lev Wood are on hand for the planting of a Princeton elm at Farms City Hall April 29. The tree, planted to mark Arbor Day, recognizes the lives of local residents lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From left, Grosse Pointe Farms Beautification Advisory Commission member Kendra Bickford, City Manager Shane Reeside, Beautification Advisory Commission member Andy Llewellyn, city forester Jacques Beaudoin, Beautification Advisory Commission member Sierra Leone Donaven and Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Lev Wood are on hand for the planting of a Princeton elm at Farms City Hall April 29. The tree, planted to mark Arbor Day, recognizes the lives of local residents lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Arbor Day 2021 rooted in remembrance in Grosse Pointe Farms

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 4, 2021

 Beaudoin talks about the city’s tree planting and maintenance programs.

Beaudoin talks about the city’s tree planting and maintenance programs.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Grosse Pointe Farms officials honored victims of COVID-19 while also marking Arbor Day this year.

As a light rain fell the morning of April 29, the city planted a Princeton elm outside Farms City Hall. In front of the tree stands a plaque that reads, “May this tree stand as an everlasting tribute to those we lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The gray day underscored the solemnity of the occasion.

“One of the main reasons we’re here is to remember and commemorate the (city’s) COVID victims,” said Beautification Advisory Commission Chair Lev Wood, who also serves on the City Council. “It’s critical to show that we’ve remembered them.”

As of May 3, the Wayne County Health Department reported that there had been 716 cases of COVID-19 in the Farms and six deaths from the virus.

The planting of a Princeton elm is significant. City forester Jacques Beaudoin said the tree is resistant to Dutch elm disease, which devastated the elm population in Michigan starting in the 1950s.

“This is the first elm tree we’ve planted in probably 20 years,” Beaudoin said. “It will grow just like the old elm trees.”

Unlike most other municipalities, the Farms never gave up in the battle against Dutch elm disease, continuing to treat city-owned trees in an effort to save them. Beaudoin said it was the same when the invasive insect the emerald ash borer first showed up in the city circa 2001. Assistant City Manager Derrick Kozicki said the Farms is now the last of the Pointes still treating its city-owned ash trees.

Beaudoin said the Farms switched to a new treatment product in 2011, and since then, it hasn’t lost a single ash tree. The city still enjoys 521 ash trees and 207 elms because of its treatment efforts — mature trees that took decades to grow to the heights they are today. Kozicki said the Farms has more city-owned ashes and elms than any of the other Grosse Pointes because of its treatment efforts.

“We’ve saved 700 trees,” Beaudoin said. “It would be incredibly costly to replace them. We’re trying to save as many of the bigger trees as possible.”

On Mack Avenue alone, Beaudoin said, the Farms has close to 100 ash trees still lining the busy roadway.

“We consider our ash and our elm to be high-value trees,” Beaudoin said.

Kozicki said the tree planting was the first Arbor Day celebration since the Farms once again became an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA in 2020, after a brief absence from the program. Because of a statewide shutdown last spring at the start of the pandemic in Michigan, the city was unable to hold its traditional Arbor Day celebration last year and, instead, celebrated virtually with social media posts, he said.

Beautification Advisory Commission member Sierra Leone Donaven revived the Arbor Day and Tree City USA program when she donated several small trees she received from the Arbor Day Foundation to the city circa 2019. The young trees were planted on city property near the former Highland Park water intake facility.

“I couldn’t understand why we (stopped participating), because we had all these beautiful trees,” Donaven said.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the Farms has been a Tree City USA for 26 years; 2021 will mark the 27th year the city has qualified for Tree City USA designation.

Vital to the city’s tree canopy is the Farms’ use of a variety of trees.

“We’ve got a lot of diversity of tree species,” Wood said, adding that the city’s trees add “extra value” to the city and its quality of life.

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