From left, Grosse Pointe City Urban Forestry Commissioners Larry Saylor (with Pippa) and Alaine Bush join City Forester Brian Colter to mark Arbor Day by planting a snowdrift crabapple tree at Elworthy Field in the City.

From left, Grosse Pointe City Urban Forestry Commissioners Larry Saylor (with Pippa) and Alaine Bush join City Forester Brian Colter to mark Arbor Day by planting a snowdrift crabapple tree at Elworthy Field in the City.

Photo provided by Brian Colter


Grosse Pointe City’s tree program reaches new height

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

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Driving through Grosse Pointe City, motorists might notice well-kept older homes, yards and mature trees. Even with losses from devastating tree killers like the emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease, the City has maintained an impressive canopy.

But motorists aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed. After 10 years of Growth Awards from the National Arbor Day Foundation, Grosse Pointe City was named a Sterling Community by the National Arbor Day Foundation during a virtual conference in April.

The Growth Award is given to Tree City USA recipients who, as Grosse Pointe City forester Brian Colter explained, go “above and beyond” Tree City USA requirements.

“That was very nice that we got that for the City,” Colter said of the Sterling Community designation.

The honor puts Grosse Pointe City in a rare club. There are only seven cities in Michigan to have been named Sterling Communities, with the others being Berkley, Hillsdale, Oak Park, Frankfort, Novi and Grosse Pointe Park; the Park achieved this status in 2008.

“They really appreciate trees and the value they bring to the community,” Colter said of City officials, who’ve supported efforts including the formation of the Urban Forestry Commission in 2017, a City tree inventory, increased tree planting and what Urban Forestry Commissioner Alaine Bush said is a “very aggressive” tree trimming program in which every City-owned tree gets trimmed on a rotating basis every five years.

“Maintaining existing trees is just as important as planting new trees,” said Colter, a certified arborist.

Routine tree trimming is a program that has paid off. Now, when a storm with high winds hits the City, Colter said they don’t have as many problems with downed limbs from City-owned trees, because unhealthy tree branches and limbs that are more vulnerable to storms have usually been removed via the tree trimming program.

Since 2017, Bush said, the commission has gotten more than $6,000 in donations and grants for tree planting.

She said the commission, made up of resident volunteers, has been involved in educational efforts, as well, to inform the public about the value of trees.

“I think it shows we have a very comprehensive tree program,” Bush said of the Sterling Community award.

Colter, who’s also the forester for Grosse Pointe Park, said there are drone videos of the tree canopy in the Park and City — complete with narration and music — that can be viewed under the forestry tabs on each of those cities’ respective websites.

Grosse Pointe City just celebrated its 35th straight year as a Tree City USA, while Grosse Pointe Park just marked its 38th year as a Tree City USA, Colter said.

“Trees provide so much benefit to us,” Bush said. “It’s a proven fact that people drive slower on tree-lined streets.”

A recent study also showed that consumers shop longer in a tree-covered business district, Bush said.

Besides improving aesthetics and adding value, trees produce oxygen and filter out pollutants and chemicals such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, said Bush, an advanced master gardener. For rain and snowmelt, tree roots filter out salt, oil and other potentially harmful substances on impervious surfaces before the rain returns to the watershed, protecting Lake St. Clair and other significant local water sources.

Tax-deductible donations to support the Urban Forestry Commission’s efforts can be made through the nonprofit City of Grosse Pointe Foundation by sending a check to City of Grosse Pointe Foundation c/o ReLeaf Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe City Hall, 17147 Maumee Ave., Grosse Pointe City, MI 48230. For more information, contact Colter at bcolter@grossepointecity.org.