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31 Michigan communities to receive funding for tree-planting

Teresa Homsi

A $105,000 in grant funding is being split among 31 Michigan communities to support tree-planting efforts.

When the state's program first started over two decades ago, it focused on replanting trees on state forest land for wildlife restoration. But project partners realized trees are also needed in public spaces like parks, streets and school grounds.

Kevin Sayers is an urban and community forestry manager with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He said the program is funded by the DTE Energy Foundation and aims to educate the public on planting trees in a way to avoid utility lines.

"One of the missions of a utility is to provide safe and reliable service, and that's not always compatible with trees," Sayers said. "Wo we want to educate people about not planting near utility lines, whether they're above ground or below.”

Sayers said the program has planted over 20 million trees. The primary goal is utility education, but Sayers said trees offer a number of other benefits, including climate change mitigation.

“As it relates to more of the built environment, we're talking about trees for the various benefits they provide for climate issues, stormwater, shade - that helps cool our communities and mitigate urban heat island effect,” Sayers said.

Communities in Antrim, Mason, Charlevoix, Osceola, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Mecosta counties are among those receiving funding from the grant. See the full list of awardees here.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.