Shelby Township plants a tree for Arbor Day

County encourages residents to plant more trees

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 10, 2017


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On April 28, Shelby Township planted a ceremonial burgundy maple tree in Mae Stecker Park for Arbor Day in conjunction with the county’s Arbor Day event at Freedom Hill County Park and its Green Macomb initiative.

The purpose of Green Macomb is to increase the county’s tree cover, which is severely lacking along the Clinton River and to the south as a result of development, pestilence and other factors, according to officials.

Earlier in the day April 28, the county held an Arbor Day event at Freedom Hill. County Executive Mark Hackel and local elementary school students planted a cherry tree, and the county offered a tree sale to the public.

Gerard Santoro, the county’s land and water resources program manager, encouraged members of the public to plant trees on their properties. Some communities, he said, have only 11 percent tree canopy; the county’s goal is to get it up to 40 percent.

“The government can only do so much to get trees in public ways, but 80 percent of land area is typically in private ownership, so it really takes an army of people to make an effect,” he said.

By adding more trees in Macomb County, Santoro said, home values, water and air quality, shade, and aesthetics will increase.

Green Macomb targets an initial 12 communities out of the 27 total in the county. Its goal is to plant 1,000 trees in communities with less than 20 percent tree canopy. This spring, more than 400 trees will be planted in Center Line, Clinton Township, Fraser, Mount Clemens, Roseville, Shelby Township and Sterling Heights.

On May 13, Shelby Township will plant 55 trees in Gene Shepherd Park, near 23 Mile and Dequindre roads.

“Shelby Township has been very responsive in their tree-planting program,” Santoro said. “Even though they have better than the remainder of the (Green Macomb target) communities’ tree canopy cover, there’s still room for improvement.”

Together, Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis and Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department Director Joe Youngblood planted the burgundy maple at Mae Stecker Park during the township’s small Arbor Day ceremony April 28.

Stathakis said he is proud to carry on the tradition of Shelby Township being a “tree township.”

“We’re going to make (our Arbor Day celebration) a bigger initiative from year to year, like we did today,” Stathakis said. “This is just a nice way to add to our tree canopy.”

Youngblood said he is pleased with the township’s commitment to trees in its park system.

“If any volunteers want to come out and help (plant trees at Gene Shepherd Park May 13), we’d love to see them,” Youngblood said. “We have some trees there, but if we could add some more trees, it’ll just add to the park. It’ll be all different types of species.”

A $20,000 U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant obtained by Green Macomb in 2016, a $20,000 match from ITC Holdings and in-kind donations made the initiative possible.

To learn more about Green Macomb, access planting guides and view canopy maps for the county, visit or call the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development at (586) 469-5285.