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Earth action heroes: Park maintenance crew helps keep the city green

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Bloomington Briefing Published November 1, 2021
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Did you know that Bloomington has been designated as a Tree City since 1987? The City earned that designation by making a commitment to maintaining its urban forestry. Every year, the Public Works park maintenance crew, with the help of volunteers, will plant more than 300 trees in City parks and other public spaces throughout the city.

A healthy tree canopy helps our community in many ways. Trees absorb the sounds of traffic, cool the urban heat island, and aid in the reduction of energy costs. Trees exhale oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that leads to climate change. Climate change stresses out trees, leading to slow growth, disease, or even death.

In the past few years, the park maintenance crew has planted trees to offset the loss of trees brought by the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Ash trees are replaced with a variety of trees, such as oaks, that are native to Minnesota. The park maintenance crew has also had success with London plane and redbud trees that are historically found in warmer growing zones.

“Tree diversity makes the urban forest more resilient to invasive species, climate change and disease,” Assistant Maintenance Superintendent Dave Hanson said. “We have 26 different tree species in our City-operated nursery, supplying trees to our parks and creating a resilient urban forest for generations to come.”

Park maintenance staff maintains a tree nursery that allows trees to be planted during optimal seasons and encourages extensive root growth that leads to successful establishment and long-term survival. 

Early spring and fall are the best times to plant trees. Planting during the hotter summer months causes additional stress, and new trees may not survive. This fall, park maintenance crews and the Sustainability Commission hosted several tree planting events where they worked with volunteers to replace trees in a few City parks. Volunteers help get the trees in the ground during a short period of time. 

At one of the events this fall, the group was able to plant 31 White Oaks in about two hours. 

“A mature oak will reduce approximately 500 tons of carbon over its 200-year life span,” Sustainability Commission Chair Tim Sandry said. “Therefore, the efforts of parks maintenance staff and volunteers that day have the potential of reducing up to 155 tons of carbon over the next 200 years. That’s a big impact in a short period of time!”

Find more information about the City’s sustainable efforts at blm.mn/sustainability

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