Urban Forestry Commission
Decades ago, Grosse Pointe was widely known for its huge tree canopy. Mostly comprised of American Elms, the trees lining both sides of the residential streets met at the center to form a cathedral-like canopy of green. By the late 1950s, Dutch elm disease had spread to Michigan, eventually decimating Grosse Pointe’s stately elms and gorgeous canopy. Maples and ash trees were planted to replace the elms, but the ash tree population also has been decimated by a disease, in this case the emerald ash borer, which invaded Michigan in the early 2000s.
As a result, the City of Grosse Pointe has significant gaps in its tree canopy. Even the remaining elms and ashes, as well as other individual trees, are likely to die in the coming years. The City budget, which funds replacement of trees as they are removed, has been unable to keep pace with such a huge loss. To address the City’s forestry needs, the City Council in 2017 established The City of Grosse Pointe Urban Forestry Commission to help create and implement a Master Plan for the City’s trees in coordination with a newly appointed City Forester.
The Commission’s first task was to create a survey of the City’s trees located on City-owned property such as the area between the sidewalks and the streets. The Commission’s survey found that more than 100 trees are needed to fill existing gaps at an estimated cost of $35,000. Some 50 additional trees are showing signs of stress and will need to be replaced within the next few years.
Members are Rick Whitney Chairperson, Sheila Tomkowiak City Council Liaison, Derek Stratelak City Beautification Commission Liaison, Alaine Bush, Brian Colter, Pete Dame, Dave Draper, Larry Saylor, and Jeffrey Swantek.