Tree canopy expands in Ferrysburg

Becky Vargo • Jun 10, 2019 at 1:00 PM

FERRYSBURG - The holes were already dug, but the couple dozen people that showed up for a volunteer tree planting Saturday morning at Ferrysburg City Hall still had plenty to do. 

Mike Graham told the volunteers to expose the flare at the base of the trunk.

“The flare should be the same height as the soil level or a little above,” said the president of Graham Forestry Service, Inc. Graham is also planting coordinator for ReLeaf Michigan, the organization coordinating the planting event.

Graham and several other representatives of various organizations, including TreeWorks of Nunica, were on hand to help with the event, which Ferrysburg Mayor Rebecca Hopp said would help the City in its quest to become a Tree City USA.

It was up to them to teach volunteers the proper way to plant and maintain a tree for its long-term health.

 In 2018, ReLeaf Michigan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, an agency of the Grand Valley Metro Council and the Davey Resource Group, Inc. received a USDA Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to assist four communities in the Lower Grand River Watershed. 

The grant provided funding to assess the urban tree canopy in each community and identify ways to increase this tree canopy to intercept storm water, reduce runoff and improve water quality within the Lower Grand River watershed and the Great Lakes basin.

ReLeaf Executive Director Melinda Jones said four communities were selected including Ferrysburg, Sparta, Grandville and Hudsonville. On Saturday, teams were at Ferrysburg and Sparta. Jones said tree plantings would be held in the fall at the other two cities.

Forty-one trees were being planted at Ferrysburg City Hall and at the City’s public works building.

Volunteers planted Tulip poplar, Ironwood, Bur oak and White oak trees along Ridge Street. Later in the morning, the group went to the north side of the former school building to plant Purple Prince Crabapple and Serviceberry trees. Some Serviceberry and Coral burst Crabapple trees were being planted near the public works building.

Will Knibloe and his son, Dylan, 11, planted a Tulip poplar near the playground area.

Knibloe said that he has a strong interest in the community and occasionally attends City Council meetings.

“I like to be involved,” he said. “And school got out yesterday, so we were looking for things to do.”

Karl and Jackie Rowland chose the only shady spot available to plant their tree on what was turning out to be a very sunny, 80-degree day.

“I volunteer him enough through NORA,” Jackie said. “So now I’m here to help him.”

Karl, a Ferrysburg Public Works employee, admitted that it was his job to dig the holes and make sure the trees were in place.

Volunteers used a shovel to measure the tree and the hole, made sure the tree was straight, filled in the dirt and carried water. 

They also poured two large bags of mulch around each tree, being careful not to cone the mulch and to keep it at least three fingers away from the base of the tree. 

That’s to keep the roots from growing in the mulch and wrapping around the tree, Jones said.

Once that work was done, other volunteers filled up water gators to be placed around the tree. 

The gators hold 20 gallons of water, Jones said. The water drips through holes to continuously water the tree for up to 10 days before it has to be filled again. The gator should be used about three seasons to allow a deep root to be established.

For more information on ReLeaf, go to www.ReLeafMichigan.org.

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