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Pleasant Ridge awarded $4,000 grant to invest in street trees

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published September 9, 2015

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PLEASANT RIDGE — A general operating millage approved by Pleasant Ridge voters last November set up the city to plant several new trees, but now, thanks to a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the city will be able increase those plans by 40 percent.

The DNR, in collaboration with the DTE Energy Foundation, announced Aug. 31 the awarding of grants totaling nearly $160,000 to 41 communities in Michigan, including seven communities and one organization in Oakland County. The DNR anticipates that the grant will result in nearly 2,000 trees being planted across the state.

The city of Pleasant Ridge will receive $4,000 from the grant. City Manager Jim Brickman said the city had to apply for the competitive grant and plans to use it to plant trees beginning next spring.

“It is a pretty fantastic grant and it increases our ability to plant trees by about 40 percent, so that helps a lot,” he said. “We applied for the grant to help supplement what we spend on trees anyway, and fortunately we got it.”

Breuckman said the city is still working on where and what kind of trees to plant in the city, as they have a wait list of residents who have asked for trees, but they will be planted along streets, which is something the city hasn’t done in a number of years. The process of planning the installation will continue throughout the winter, he added.

With the grant, Breuckman anticipates that the city will be able to plant around 50 trees, depending on the cost of the trees and the bids to do the planting. The city had set aside $10,000 for the tree planting project and now will have $14,000 to spend on trees.

The original $10,000 comes from the general operating millage that raised the previous 11.3 mills to 14.3 mills after the November election last year. Most of the money was used to lower residents’ utility costs, but some was set aside for projects like street trees.

The millage passed by garnering nearly 75 percent of the votes.

“Budget cuts have stopped us from investing in trees, but with the new millage, one thing we wanted to do was set aside money to replace trees,” Breuckman said. “We are glad we are able to do that now.”

This is the 19th year of the partnership between the DNR and the DTE Energy Foundation to help plant trees in Michigan communities. The grants awarded have resulted in more than 20 million trees being planted across the state.

DNR Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Kevin Sayers said trees are important to maintain in communities, as is being aware of where trees are planted.

“Healthy trees provide numerous important benefits to our communities and the environment,” Sayers said in a statement. “These grants will help communities enhance local tree canopy cover while also promoting awareness about planting the right tree in the right location, especially as it relates to utilities.”

With Pleasant Ridge being nestled next to a major freeway and Woodward Avenue, Breuckman said trees are crucial to maintaining the feel of the community and helping improve the environment.

“There has been study after study done that street tree canopies add about 10-15 percent to property values, and those mature canopies are a big part of Pleasant Ridge’s character and one of the defining things about our community people like,” he said. “We live next to Woodward and I-696, so filtering the air is great, and the trees do that while providing shade in the summer and saving on electricity. There are a ton of great things about our trees, and it is great we can reinvest in them.”

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