By Sara Minkoff, DNR urban forestry specialist, Madison, Sara.Minkoff@wisconsin.gov, 608-669-5447
The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council recently announced award recipients honoring those dedicated to protecting, preserving and increasing the number of trees that line city streets, fill community parks and beautify neighborhoods throughout the state. The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council advises the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry on the management of urban and community forest resources.
“Wisconsin plays a critical role in conservation, especially when it comes to trees! These awards honor individuals, organizations and communities for their hard work and dedication to trees and the benefits they provide,” said Kristin Gies, chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council’s award committee. “Each year we review the nominations and learn about the incredible work happening around Wisconsin that supports healthy community forests.”
Distinguished Service award recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin.
This year’s honoree, David Sivyer, has been a leader in urban forestry in Wisconsin in several capacities for more than a decade. During his 13-year career as the Forestry Service Manager for the City of Milwaukee, he provided strategic direction and leadership in urban forestry and landscape management, including an effective response to EAB saving almost 30,000 trees and a comprehensive urban wood utilization program finding the highest possible uses of local urban wood within the city.
Project Partnership award recognizes outstanding projects utilizing partnerships to benefit our urban forests.
The collaborative Phoenix from the Ashes project is recognized for an extraordinary partnership between nonprofit organizations, private businesses, city departments, and others to help repurpose Madison’s felled ash trees, minimize the sense of loss brought about by the removal of these trees, and to create beauty and benefit out of that loss. The project demonstrated ways our urban canopy can be used as a resource – reclaiming the ash trees decimated by the emerald ash borer and transforming them into a resource into functional and decorative art for the public to enjoy and provide job and skills training for underrepresented youth in the community.
Innovation award recognizes the creativity, commitment and success of urban forestry efforts.
The Employer Sponsors of the Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship Advisory Committee —Jon Welch, Crawford Tree and Landscape; Ben Reince, Wachtel Tree Science; Randy Krouse, City of Milwaukee; and August Hoppe, Hoppe Tree Service—receive this year’s Innovation Award to recognize their achievement developing the nation’s first arborist apprenticeship. This program creates a pathway for moving new employees into skilled workers, a training format new to arboriculture. Each of these individuals has been critical to the success of the apprenticeship program; they realized the importance of apprenticeship and how it can help solve the great challenges of recruitment, training and retainment in our industry.
Lifetime Achievement recognizes outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin demonstrated throughout a lifetime career.
We are pleased to recognize Chuck Nass for his leadership promoting and improving urban forestry, especially within his City of Whitewater. Before his recent retirement as their City Forester and Superintendent of Streets and Parks, Chuck was successful at growing the city’s urban forestry program, attended the DNR’s Community Tree Management Institute, and returned to CTMI as an instructor. His efforts working with the city’s engineers resulted in a positive relationship, giving him access to street plans early enough in the process to be effective and enabling him to incorporate tree protection and planting elements.
Leadership Award recognizes an individual or elected official at the county or local level of government who has made an outstanding recent contribution to urban forestry in Wisconsin.
We are delighted to present our new Leadership award to Don Merkes, mayor of Menasha and emeritus member of the WI Urban Forestry Council. Don’s vision and leadership have catapulted Menasha’s urban forestry program to the next level. The partnerships he created launched several new programs within the city to enhance the beauty and benefits of the urban forest. Don is creating a legacy that future generations of residents will enjoy.
The recipients were announced February 18th at the 2020 Wisconsin Arborist Association/DNR urban forestry conference in Green Bay.
To learn more, see previous winners and nominate your community tree champion, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword, “Urban Forestry Council.” The deadline for 2021 nominees is October 30, 2020. However, you can nominate your community tree champions any time.