At Hazel Park’s tree planting last year, in Karam Park, Vincent Perez and  Kristina Quitos, both of Canton, were among the volunteers helping out.  Hazel Park’s tree planting this fall will be Oct. 9 at Green Acres Park.

At Hazel Park’s tree planting last year, in Karam Park, Vincent Perez and Kristina Quitos, both of Canton, were among the volunteers helping out. Hazel Park’s tree planting this fall will be Oct. 9 at Green Acres Park.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Volunteers sought for upcoming tree planting at Green Acres Park

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published September 22, 2021


HAZEL PARK — A tree planting is coming up in Hazel Park, and volunteers are needed.

Fifteen trees will be planted Saturday, Oct. 9, from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Green Acres Park, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd. The planting is being organized by the city of Hazel Park, the Detroit Zoological Society and ReLeaf Michigan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the tree canopy in communities across the state.

The Green Acres planting will add shade and improve the overall aesthetic of the place while providing a myriad of other benefits to people and the environment. To keep residents safe while they help with the plantings, COVID protocol will be in place, with masks and social distancing recommended. Volunteers are also asked to wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing, and to bring a shovel and gloves if they have them.

Sign-in is at 9:45 a.m., and the planting will go on, rain or shine. No prior experience is necessary since there will be a team of tree experts from ReLeaf Michigan providing guidance. There will also be refreshments to keep everyone hydrated.

The end result should be a fuller tree canopy that residents and visitors to Hazel Park will enjoy for generations to come. Trees are proven to improve air and water quality while reducing stormwater runoff, and they also improve mental wellness and reduce rates of childhood asthma, in addition to providing shade to keep neighborhoods cool during the hot months. Organizers say that tree coverage is also generally associated with commercial and economic vitality in a community.

ReLeaf Michigan itself has been around for 33 years, and routinely partners with communities across the state to replenish tree canopies with the help of volunteers. The Detroit Zoological Society is also committed to the environment, and has partnered with ReLeaf to fund four plantings this year.

“A big thank you to the Detroit Zoo for sponsoring these events, and for their commitment to planting trees in Michigan communities,” said Ashley Laux, ReLeaf’s project forester, via email.

Before arranging the planting at Green Acres, Laux met with Hazel Park Recreation Director Sareen Papakhian and Hazel Park Department of Public Works Foreman Tom Jones to walk the site and determine which tree species would be appropriate for the given conditions, which include the soil type, park usage, distance from overhead and underground utilities, existing tree cover and more.

To increase the species diversity in the city of Hazel Park overall, as well as the diversity in Green Acres’ predominantly oak makeup, they selected tulip trees, northern hackberry, eastern redbud, single-stem serviceberry, black gum and thornless cockspur hawthorn.

“ReLeaf Michigan has a robust and turnkey planting procedure,” Laux said, explaining how a certified forester or arborist is assigned to each planting and oversees the process, which begins with the nursery delivering the trees to the community.

Each partner community pre-digs the holes and provides a water source to water the newly planted trees, as well as tools. On the planting day, a short ceremony and detailed demonstration primes the volunteers, who are encouraged to ask questions about the process. Then the volunteers split into groups of two to four people and handle the remaining trees.

“Tree cover provides extensive environmental, social, human health and economic benefits,” Laux said. “These include improved mental health, reduced stress levels, increased likelihood to exercise in a tree-covered area, reduction in heat-related mortality, reduced crime, carbon sequestration, a reduction in stormwater runoff, increased property values, and many many more. Research continues to find more new ways that trees are beneficial to people and the planet.”

Papakhian said that past plantings have gone well. This included April 2018 when 20 trees were planted at Scout-McPherson Park and Karam Park; October 2019, when 16 trees were planted at Kennedy Park and Felker Park; and November 2020, when 13 trees were planted at Karam Park.

“These trees are replacing a lot of trees that were lost over time in the city parks, mainly due to disease. The city’s approach to restoring lost trees is by making partners, like ReLeaf Michigan, in the tree-planting community, and working hard to solicit low-cost and fully paid-for trees,” Papakhian said in an email. “We are appreciative of our work with ReLeaf over the years, helping us to find these resources in the Southeast Michigan community, and by their partnership with sponsors such as the Detroit Zoo and DTE. Also, both the city and ReLeaf enter a tree maintenance agreement to make sure the trees are maintained and cared for over time.

“Tree plantings can be extremely rewarding,” she added. “Planting a tree creates a living legacy on this earth. After all we have endured during this pandemic, I would encourage those looking for a connection with nature to come out and see what a tree planting is all about. I would also encourage those looking for a connection with community to come out and bond with their neighbors in achieving one common goal.”