Dowagiac declared a tree city for 11th straight year

DOWAGIAC — Looking out onto the streets of Dowagiac today, one would see bare, brown trees line the sidewalks and filling the green spaces of the city. However, those trees will soon be filled with green leaves and bloom with flowers of all colors.

The trees of Dowagiac are important to city leaders, which is why they applied for a designation that the city was recently awarded.

Dowagiac was once again designated a Tree City USA for the 11th year in a row by the Arbor Day Foundation. In order to be named a Tree City USA, a city must meet the Arbor Day Foundation’s four requirements: have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

According to City Administrative Assistant Sue Watson, the city not only meets the requirements of the Arbor Day Foundation, but far exceeds them. She said that the city spends between $40,000-$45,000 per year on community forestry, exceeding the required budget of $2 per capita. For the Arbor Day celebration, the city gives out saplings for residents to plant in the area.

“The designation lets people know that the city of Dowagiac cares about its trees,” Watson, who keeps track of all the requirements for Tree City USA, said.

President of the Arbor Day Foundation Dan Lambe said in a written statement that Tree City USA designations are important to communities so that residents can see the impact of urban forestry, foster community pride and provide communities with the benefits that trees can provide including increased property value and lowered levels of air pollutants.

Dowagiac city leaders would agree with Lambe’s statement, Watson said. She added that the city does what it can to keep the number of trees in the city high, including always planting a new tree when one is cut down.

“We don’t like to take down any trees unless they are deceased or dead or dying,” Watson said. “We want to make sure that we have enough trees in town to provide homes for the wildlife and tree cover for shade and all the other benefits that having trees provides.”

In addition to the practical causes for making Dowagiac a Tree City USA, Watson said that the variety of trees in Dowagiac, from dogwoods to pines, makes for a picturesque community. She added that the parks and Riverside Cemetery are some of the best places to see trees in Dowagiac.

“We have so many beautiful trees, it’s wonderful to just look at them all,” she said. “They really make our community great.”

Watson said that she hopes that Dowagiac residents will take the time to appreciate the trees in Dowagiac and take the time to care for them.

“My one piece of wisdom is to never just cut a tree down just to cut it, and if you have to cut it down, replace it,” she said. “We want people to realize that the trees are the future. You’ve got to have trees.”

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