LANSING, Mich. — The city of Lansing removed 6,042 street trees over the past decade and replanted just 3,335, a difference of about 2,700.
The city currently has 40,000 street trees. Lansing parks director Brett Kaschinske said he does not have an estimate of the number of trees in the city's parks and pathways.
Kaschinske said the removal largely was due to disease and severe storms that caused trees to be removed from power lines.
He said the reason they haven't been replanted is financial.
“It's a matter of resources that we have to be able to plant trees,” Kaschinske said.
But trees can add a tremendous amount of value to a community, says Brian Cregg, a Michigan State University professor specializing in the physiology and management of trees in landscapes.
“A vast part of that value is the stormwater mitigation,” Cregg said. “Because that's all water that doesn't have to go through the treatment system, and all of that. Trees do a lot more for us, environmentally, also they remove pollutants, so they can actually trap particulate matter.”
Trees also have physical and mental benefits for people.
“There's a growing body of research on what trees do for us physically, mentally and of course it's all tied together with the mind body connection,” Creg. And so, even things like scent, trees, or being outdoors is good for your blood pressure. And so this, this connection, of course, connected to nature and better health outcomes.”
And those environmental and health benefits decrease as trees come down
The reduction caught the attention of Lansing resident Thomas Hamlin, who has been living on Devonshire Avenue for the past 25 years. During the pandemic, when he and his wife began walking around their neighborhood more, he noticed something.
“The trees over time have been taken down, removed, but not replaced,” Hamlin said. “So the policy of deforestation is removing more trees than you replace.”
Hamlin drew up a list of 80 trees that were removed and not replaced in his south side neighborhood, bounded by Jolly Road, Pennway Drive, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Tranter Street.
“I made the list and sent it to the forestry department and to the mayor,” Hamlin said. “And so far, I received some nice courteous replies, but no action.”
Kashinske said that programs are available through the parks department that allow neighborhood groups to request trees to be planted in their areas, and the city hopes to increase the number of trees over the coming years.
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