Arbor Day 2015

Preservation of our urban tree canopy is very important to the economic, social, and environmental health of our neighborhood. We are working on updating our East Hills Urban Forest Plan. Please take a moment to review this plan and let us know if you want to be involved on our Greenspace Committee by contacting Rachel Lee at

Arbor Day 2015: 10 Things To Know about Grand Rapids Trees

1. We receive $3.60 in benefits—such as air quality improvement, stormwater interception, and reduced energy costs—for every $1 the City spends on its urban forestry program.

2. Grand Rapids is the largest city in Michigan with the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA designation. We’ve been a Tree City USA for 17 years!

3. To maximize the economic, environmental and quality of life benefits we receive from trees, Grand Rapids is working to achieve a 40 percent tree canopy. A new canopy study now underway will tell us where we currently are in relation to our goal.

4. Riverside Park is home to some of Grand Rapids’ largest public trees, including a 55” diameter ash tree and a 59” diameter white oak. For a Riverside Park tree tour, check out

5. Downtown tree grates are being replaced with a porous material that’s made from recycled tires, is less expensive to install and maintain and more pedestrian-friendly than tree grates, and allows water and nutrients to reach tree roots.

6. This year the City is conducting an inventory to collect data about its street trees to most effectively manage this valuable “green infrastructure” asset—which, unlike most “gray infrastructure” assets, increases in value each year!

7. You can nominate a tree to become the 2015 Mayor’s Tree of the year. Just add your tree to the online Grand Rapids tree map (, with a comment indicating you’re nominating the tree. Previous Mayor’s Trees of the Year include a Wealthy Street ash, an Aberdeen Park oak, and a Monroe Ave. elm. 

8. To encourage downtown tree planting and other streetscape enhancements, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. offers businesses partial reimbursement for these improvements through the DGRI streetscape program. 

9. Appreciation of trees is embedded in Grand Rapids history. Native Americans planted trees along the Grand River to mark portage points. Key Grand Rapids tree advocates have ranged from George W. Thompson, founder of the Hill Tree Planting Association in the late 1800s, to surgeon Alfred Swanson, who launched an initiative to plant 10,000 trees in Kent County in the 1980s.

10. Continuing the tradition of planting and caring for trees in Grand Rapids, local volunteers will celebrate Arbor Day 2015 by planting trees in the Garfield Park area, in events sponsored by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. More information: