Maumee Hosts Arbor Day Tree-Planting At Wolcott Heritage Center

Maumee city officials joined members of the Maumee Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission to celebrate National Arbor Day on Friday, April 26 with the planting of 12 new trees on the grounds of the Wolcott Heritage Center in Maumee. Posing for a picture with one of the new trees are (from left) Alaina Meister, member of the Maumee Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission; Jon Fiscus, Maumee City Council member; Steve Emerine, tree commission member; Mark Irmen, tree commission member; Dr. Patrick Burtch, city of Maumee administrator; and Margo Puffenberger, tree commission member and Maumee City Council member. Attending the ceremony, but not pictured, was Jason Mendelsohn, tree commission member. MIRROR PHOTO BY MIKE McCARTHY

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — As the tree canopy in Maumee slowly grows, so do the benefits for its residents.

In recognition of Arbor Day on April 26, Mayor Jim MacDonald issued a proclamation and the city hosted a tree-planting event at the Wolcott Heritage Center.

For the event, city officials and members of the Maumee Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission saw 12 trees planted on the grounds.

“We usually plant one tree, but since we’re planting so many around town, we didn’t feel like that was enough, so we decided to plant 12 here,” said Maumee City Council and commission member Margo Puffenberger.

Joining Puffenberger were several other members of the commission, including longtime member Alaina Meister, who joined in the 1990s because she wanted to help with beautification around the city.

“I think if you live in a beautiful community, you’re more proud. You’re happier to bring visitors here and show them here,” Meister said. “Beautification softens hard lines.”

The hundreds of trees that have been planted or will soon be planted across the city for the revitalization efforts lend to beautification, Meister noted.

The benefits of an increased tree canopy are numerous, added Puffenberger.

“For the Wolcott House, when we planted all the trees in the back and along the side, it’s giving privacy to the residents in the homes there, it’s providing better backdrop for photographs. It’s hiding traffic. It’s providing a better ambiance,” she said.

Additionally, the trees are improving the air quality and lowering the overall temperature on tree-covered streets. An increased tree canopy can also improve property values and provide better habitats for local wildlife.

Connecting with nature and having a relaxing environment to view and actively participate in can also make people happier and healthier, Puffenberger said.

“It provides all these mental health benefits aside from money and safety benefits,” she added. “You don’t always realize the impact it has unless you really think about it.”

Having an environment that people can be proud of is important to Meister, who is stepping down from the commission after nearly 30 years.

She said she was happy to spend her time working to create a beautiful city that she and the rest of the residents could be proud of, and she’s happy one of her last projects was to see the area around the Wolcott Heritage Center begin to be restored.

“These are historic trees. They’re not new hybrids. These are trees you would find when the Wolcott House was used in the 1800s,” Meister said. “This kind of restores the area around (it).”

In front of the Wolcott House, there are six new trees: two London plane sycamores, two northern pin oaks and two sawtooth oaks. Six more new trees are located in the back of the property.

Throughout the city, other trees that have been planted have also been carefully considered, to make sure they will do well in the area.

“The Maumee Environmental and Tree Advisory Commission is starting work on a master planting design, also known as a use site index. We will be mapping the entirety of the city,” explained commission member Jason Mendelsohn. “It’s basically us looking down the street and trying to figure out what trees would best fit the spot. We look at the width of the tree lawn, speed limits if curbs are there, any overhead obstructions, soil samples, and that will tell us what tree would be best-suited for that spot.”

Maumee’s tree canopy had decreased significantly since 1990. Many of the issues were caused by the emerald ash borer, which resulted in hundreds of dead or diseased trees that had to be removed.

The removal of those trees had outpaced plantings for several years. Now, the city is ramping up new plantings and bringing in diverse trees that are native to the region, which will help keep the trees safe from a fate similar to that caused by the emerald ash borer.

The goal now is to bring the tree canopy back to 30 percent or more in the next 10 years, Puffenberger said, but it takes significant work to undergo a project of this magnitude.

“There is a lot of thought that goes into this whole process,” she said.

The master plan will eventually allow for city officials to use it as a reference for the next 50 to 100 years, having determined what trees are best for being planted everywhere around the city.

All of those efforts will lead to a revitalized Maumee, Meister said, which is something she wants everyone in the city to be able to enjoy and be proud of.

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