Giving treesPublished 11:30am Tuesday, October 29, 2013
It was a necessity during an ongoing street renovation project in Elbow Lake that some 60 trees be removed.
But that did not make it any easier for city clerk Jeff Holsen.
“I hate to cut any tree down,” he said. “I’m a tree-hugger, but sometimes you’re forced to.”
More than half of these uprooted trees will be replaced this fall and next spring as part of a years-long city planting project.
“A lot of the trees on that block were ash trees and they have seen their better years,” Holsen said.
Those older ash trees will be replaced by a wider variety of trees, according to Elbow Lake resident Susan Sanford, who serves on the three-person city tree committee and has done a lot of work with trees over the past few years.
In 2009, she walked through the city and did a tree count, estimating she counted about 98 percent of the city’s trees. That tree count led to the city’s tree planting project, which eventually evolved to include a tree fund to which residents could donate.
Last spring, Elbow Lake received a grant worth just under $15,000 from the Department of Natural Resources to plant even more trees. The grant called for the city to plant trees from a DNR-approved list for five consecutive planting seasons, which will conclude next spring.
Because of this grant, the city will be able to plant trees in the four-block construction area.
“This fall we’re going to plant 30 trees and most of them will go along that street,” said Sanford, who added that more trees will be planted in the area next spring.
The trees had to be removed during the $816,000 renovation project because they were too close to the curb, Holsen said. Any trees that get planted from now on have to be at least six feet from any curb so as to avoid these kinds of removals during future construction projects.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the week, at which point Sanford will mark the areas where trees will be planted.
Sanford is not sure if she would like to reapply for a DNR tree grant because the city may be better able to diversify their tree population if they use their own funds. The sheer volume of trees needed to be planted to qualify for the grant was also overwhelming at times.
“Twenty or 30 trees is quite a lot to plant at one time for a city of this size,” Sanford said.
But the grant was certainly appreciated. Sanford estimated the city has planted about 120 trees since 2009, many of those using the grant.
Despite the loss of some trees because of the construction project, Sanford still feels the city has a great plan moving forward to add to Elbow Lake’s beauty.
Holsen also feels the loss of these trees will be a long-term positive for Elbow Lake.
“This could be a blessing in disguise,” he said.