The city’s Parks and Recreation Department recently planted 20 new trees at Jaycee Park to provide more shade for the neighboring playground equipment.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department recently planted 20 new trees at Jaycee Park to provide more shade for the neighboring playground equipment.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Troy honored with Tree City designation for 31 years straight

City to celebrate Arbor Day with tree planting

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published April 21, 2021

 A variety of oak, white oak and maple trees were planted at Jaycee Park.

A variety of oak, white oak and maple trees were planted at Jaycee Park.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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TROY — For the past 30 years, the city of Troy has earned a Tree City USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation, and now 2020 is added to the tally.

City officials are celebrating this upcoming Arbor Day, April 30, with their 31st annual Tree City USA designation and a tree planting ceremony at Firefighters Park at 4:30 p.m. May 7.

“I think it’s a wonderful acknowledgement of all the work we do in this city to make sure our trees and green space are a priority, knowing that we can always do more. It’s a true honor to be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation year after year,” Troy Mayor Ethan Baker said. “Our Public Works Department and our city arborist are always looking for ways to add trees to our city — our medians and right of ways, any reforestation of our parks, and we know certainly the community has been focused on preservation of what green space we do have and how we work with developers who make preservation of green space on developable land a priority.”

Making sure developers save and/or replant trees at their proposed sites has been top of mind for the city since 2016, Baker said, when City Council members approved a tree preservation ordinance that forces developers to meet certain requirements before trees can be removed and ensures replanting for trees taken out.

“We also have our cluster development ordinance, which I actually like to think of as a green space preservation ordinance, because it gives density bonuses to developers. It lets them build their homes a little closer together … but gives them an increased amount of density the more they preserve trees and green space,” Baker added.

Baker acknowledged how painful it can be for residents to watch a formerly wooded area they enjoyed for leisure get developed into a new use.

“We have to do a better job of finding a way to balance that for everybody,” he said, adding that the city must continue to respect private property rights while incentivizing keeping healthy trees in the community.

While some residents may have heard previously that Troy was built out, Baker said that’s not specifically the case for the community’s green spaces. The city has over 1,000 acres of green space and parks, Baker said, as well as 11 different undeveloped park properties.

“We need to do a better job of promoting that green space and inviting people into some places where they may not realize it exists,” Baker added.

Troy City Arborist Mike Guzynski said the Parks and Recreation Department hasn’t ever measured what percentage of the city, or the city’s right of ways, has a healthy tree canopy, but he said the city works diligently to plant new trees and replace new trees as needed. In 2020, Guzynski said, the city planted new or replaced over 400 trees in total.

Guzynski doesn’t believe the city has any major challenges to its tree canopy.

“It’s all just planting and keeping the right of ways filled, and planting in the parks. We just planted 20 trees at Jaycee Park this week,” he said, adding that additional shade should benefit the nearby playground structures.

Guzynski said residents can help keep the communities’ trees in tip-top shape, too.

“Water their right-of-way trees. Make sure they get ample water, and mulch is really good,” Guzynski said. “If they mulch their trees, it helps hold in moisture,” he said, explaining that adding mulch around the tree base can also prevent weed whackers from lacerating the trees. “A big destroyer of plants is those weed whippers, so whatever they can do to help care for the trees in front of their house.” 

The city also employs a No Plant List of undesirable species that Guzynski suggests residents look at before planting any new trees in their yard. If the community continues to ensure its tree canopy stays healthy, Guzynski said, residents will continue to experience the benefits that come with it.

A healthy tree canopy can reduce how far noise travels, decrease air pollution, mitigate flooding and stabilize the soil, increase the city’s air quality, and provide a healthy habitat for wildlife.

A healthy tree canopy can benefit a city in other ways, too, Baker explained.

“I think you see a premium on neighborhoods that have mature tree growth. One of the things that makes Troy so desirable for families, besides all the wonderful things we have about our schools and our quality of life, is the prevalence of mature tree growth — that tree canopy that makes a neighborhood more inviting.

“So yes, you have the environmental benefits, no question, but there’s the atmosphere benefits, and the beauty and serenity of having mature trees.”

The city’s ultimate goal, beyond continuing to care for a healthy tree canopy, is to connect the city’s parks and wooded areas with the city’s ongoing trail project. For more information, visit troymi.gov.

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