Donations, grants covered cost of more than half of trees planted in City last year

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 7, 2024

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Fundraising, donations and grants have enabled Grosse Pointe City to maintain its urban canopy as much as it has — but there is still a need for more trees and money, according to the city forester.

City Forester Brian Colter outlined the city’s tree progress in 2023 while delivering the annual Urban Forestry Commission report in front of the Grosse Pointe City Council April 15.

Colter said an examination of city-owned land showed “at least 150 clear gaps in our urban forest … that need new trees immediately.”

“That number is a conservative number,” Colter continued. “It’s much likely a much higher number.”

While the city’s annual tree planting budget was up $2,000 from 2022 — it was $12,000 in 2023 — Colter said that only enabled the city to acquire and plant 34 trees — below their goal of 50. And during a powerful windstorm July 26 in which a tornado hit neighboring Grosse Pointe Farms, Colter said the city lost 32 trees, meaning that the ones planted with budget dollars were essentially just keeping up with those losses.

“That storm really wiped out the tree maintenance budget,” Colter said.

However, other funding enabled the city to plant a total of 89 trees in 2023. Colter said the majority of that funding — about $30,000 — came from a fundraiser that honored Brian Fraser, of Grosse Pointe Park, one of the Michigan State University students killed during a mass shooting on campus on Feb. 13, 2023.

“We wouldn’t have been able to plant any of those trees if it wasn’t for the generosity of (donors),” Colter said.

Last year, City Councilman Seth Krupp said, he was “sad to see all of those trees that were lost,” but he, too, expressed gratitude to the donors who made additional planting possible.

“Where do you get your money from?” City Councilman Dave Fries asked.

Besides what Colter acknowledged was a “pretty meager” budget for tree planting, he said donations and grants were the only other sources of funding.

Colter said this year, Krupp himself was “graciously donating a swamp white oak” he purchased for the city; it was planted during Arbor Day festivities in April.

Colter said the commission’s goal this year is to update its tree gap survey to determine how many trees the city really needs.

Krupp said City residents who’d like a tree planted by their home on city-owned property should contact Colter.

“Don’t be shy — ask for a tree,” Krupp said, underscoring the city’s desire to restore the lush canopy it once enjoyed.

Additional Urban Forestry Commission members are also needed and can reach out to Colter about volunteering.

Anyone who’d like to see more trees planted in the city can make a tax-deductible donation to ReLeaf of Grosse Pointe through the nonprofit City of Grosse Pointe Foundation. A young tree of about 10 feet to 12 feet in height costs about $350, Colter said. Donors just need to indicate that their foundation gift is intended for ReLeaf of Grosse Pointe.

For more information on trees or donating to ReLeaf of Grosse Pointe, contact Colter at (313) 885-5800 or