For several years now, Greenfield resident Ron Dudley has been working to evaluate the status of the village’s tree population and take action to restore or improve the tree canopies that once lined our streets. To be honest, not much has come from his efforts.
The central problems include economic resources and public apathy. Trees can be expensive and not everyone sees value in planting a few in their back yards or along their curbs. On the other hand I live in a deep forest and everyday see the benefits. Besides the beauty it is always much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Our trees have saved us unknown amounts on utilities while bringing us great joy.
Cities and towns all over the state are engaged in efforts to restore their tree canopies but Greenfield could do more. There is not enough surplus tax revenue for the village government to take on the effort but each year on Arbor Day they see to the planting of several trees and help with the distribution of hundreds of seedlings to young school children. What percentage of these seedlings actually get planted and tended to is unknown.
I recently read an article about the planting of Cincinnati’s Eden Park Forest. In 1882 the superintendent of schools ceased regular classes on Arbor Day and had the students, along with parents, plant the trees that make up one of today’s great city parks. Over 20,000 people showed up for the effort. Maybe that would be something our schools could do on Arbor Day rather than just assuming the distributed seedlings will get planted. I’m sure there are people and organizations willing to help acquire the plants.
Part of the article also discussed a program called Taking Root. Its goal is to plant 2,000,000 trees by 2020 in the Cincinnati area to help offset impending losses from the invading emerald ash borer beetle. While it didn’t mention the source of the trees it did offer that residents of greater Cincinnati are being offered American Elm, Ohio Buckeye, Allegheny Serviceberry, Hardy Pecan, Black Gum and Swamp White Oak trees for just $5 each.
In the late 1970s the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would give landowners wildlife packages that included a goodly amount of bare root seedlings. I planted several of these packages that included black locust and various species of pine. A relative planted a small plot of pines which he nurtured for several years before transplanting along a fence row near his home. All these years later it has grown into a wonderful wind break for his property and habitat for wildlife.
I searched the Internet but couldn’t find any evidence of such groups. While the village may not have funds to freely distribute saplings it could aid in a program to acquire wholesale quantities and sell them to residents at cost. I did a quick Google and found that seedlings from an Ohio nursery run less than $4 each. In larger amounts that number could be reduced.
I’ve offered several ideas here for restoring our town’s canopy. What remains is a group of interested and concerned residents to lead seeing something come to fruition.
As a footnote I’ve come to notice that getting Greenfielders to donate money is fairly easy. Overall we are a generous people. However, getting people to volunteer is another story. I recently asked people on Facebook to help judge a BBQ contest in Hillsboro and received no responses. It left me thinking people in our town won’t even volunteer for free food. I hope I’m wrong.