This time of year, when the sun’s rays are intense and we seek refuge from the heat and rays, we appreciate our trees. Trees in parking lots help keep our cars cool. Trees along our boulevards shade our sidewalks, making our strolls more pleasant. And a day at the beach is so much better with the shade of a large canopy allowing us to escape the sun between swims.

Trees make our lives better. They produce the oxygen we breathe, purify our water and air, shade our homes and businesses, stabilize our soils, provide us with delicious fruits, and shelter our wildlife. Trees in urban areas make our cities more desirable places to live. They filter, infiltrate, and evaportransporate stormwater. They provide privacy screening and muffle urban noises. As we continue to face an uncertain climate future and increased population growth, our trees will help us fight erosion, flooding, extreme temperatures, and poor air quality in both urban and rural settings.

Our trees and the natural resources make our corner of northern Michigan a desirable place to visit and live. They are critical to our “up north” identify. This summer, if you’re a resident or visitor of Grand Traverse County, we encourage you to pay attention to some very important tree conversations. On Wednesday, July 24 at 8am the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners will discuss managing land use at Cherry Capital Airport, which we anticipate will include a discussion on the management of large tracks of healthy forest near the airport. The City of Traverse City will discuss a draft Landscaping and Tree ordinance at the August 20, 2019 meeting. The City is seeking written feedback about this draft ordinance until August 12.

The Watershed Center encourages you to attend these public meetings and share your thoughts about trees and how you think our community can best protect these treasured assets. The future of our trees (and our community) will be brighter if we all speak up about protecting what makes this place so special.

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