Tree Tags Tout Value

By Jeanne Mueller, Cedarburg Green

“We have 6,715 street trees as of July 2020,” reported Kevin Westphal, Cedarburg Forester. “Totaling 70,000 diameter inches, the appraised value of Cedarburg’s street trees, based on CPI, is $10.5 million,” he continued. 

Since January, when Mayor O’Keefe declared 2020 the year to focus on trees, Cedarburg Green, with the help of a grant from the Wisconsin DNR, has been actively promoting trees and tree care throughout Cedarburg. With the hope of attracting attention to the City’s trees, Cedarburg Green attached price tags to a number of trees along Washington Avenue. “Trees are more than municipal objects,” said Jeanne Mueller, Cedarburg Green volunteer, “our main goals are to provide people with a sense of a tree’s economic value as well as show the many other benefits a tree provides.”

In all, 19 trees were selected by Westphal for tagging. Using the National Tree Benefits calculator, www.treebenefits.com, trees ranging from 6” to 21” in trunk diameter were analyzed. Annually, this small sample of trees intercept 28,263 gallons of water runoff, reduce CO2 by 14,422 pounds, and save 3,921 kWh of electricity which equals a reduction of $297.61 on electric bills. Appraised value of these few trees is $42,150 with annual economic benefits of $2,399. 

Originally, the tagging project was to be done by students. “Our hope is that this fall or next spring, students will be able to participate in this activity. Originally, ten trees in each of Cedarburg’s seven districts were to be chosen…70 trees in all,” Mueller said. “Even though the student project is on hold, we encourage people to use the tree benefits calculator or an expanded calculator found at mytree.itreetools.org to learn about trees in their yard and neighborhood,” she added. 

“And, of course,” she concluded, “we invite everyone to take a walk around Cedarburg and learn about its trees.” For trees to be truly valued, we need to see them for what they really are…an investment in a cleaner environment, storm water reduction, temperature modification, beautifying our streets and neighborhoods as well as delivering a 3 to 1 return on every dollar spent caring for Cedarburg’s trees.

Trees were tagged the first week in August and remained on trees until Labor Day. Check out the wonderful video Cedarburg Green created to introduce the community to this resource.

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