By Sara Minkoff, retired DNR Urban Forestry Council Liaison
Many smaller Wisconsin communities would like to expand their tree planting efforts but have limited budgets. One village in southern Wisconsin came up with a solution.
Rochester Commons Park has been working to create an arboretum using several grants from the American Transmission Company, an electric transmission utility that aids in promoting natural resources in areas separate from electrical utility service lines.
The western Racine County village of about 4,000 people is lined predominantly with maple trees in the public right-of-way along streets and sidewalks. The goals of the ATC-funded project are to exhibit a variety of species beyond the maples to encourage residents to plant and grow more types of trees and diversify and beautify Rochester.
The first trees were planted in the Rochester Commons Park commons area, including the Village Hall, the Public Library, and a playground set. It also has 13 new trees, including birch, oak, honey locust and cypress.
The project draws high praise from the Rochester Public Library, where administrators are already taking advantage of the arboretum as a new teaching tool. The library has held several outdoor programs in the park and plans to continue using the arboretum for children’s programming to include environmental issues.
American Transmission Co. spokesperson Jody Lau said the company is happy to partner with the city on growing their tree canopy.
“Rochester was selected for its smart and creative plan to increase tree diversity in the village,” Lau said, “and their educational efforts to help village residents understand the benefits of tree diversity to the community.”