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MILLERSBURG -- Mayor Jeff Huebner proclaimed Friday, April 28, as Arbor Day in the village of Millersburg, urging all citizens to celebrate and support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands.
"I urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations," Huebner said.
An Arbor Day celebration was scheduled for Millersburg Mennonite Church with the planting of tree as 70 first-graders look on.
"Each child will receive a sapling to take home and plant," said Holmes County Planning Director Arnie Oliver.
Oliver recently completed a Tree City study with the help of Millersburg Tree Board (MTB) Chairman Arlie Rodhe and board member Mike McDowell. The plan calls for doubling the existing number of street trees from 564 in 2016 to 1,128 by 2036. These new trees will help stem the decline of larger trees that are at the end or near the end of their life cycle or trees that have been removed and not replaced. Meeting this goal would require the installation of 28 new street trees annually.
Areas projected to be targeted with new tree plantings as funds allow include: North Mad Anthony intersection with Jackson Street North to Walnut; Glenn Drive from intersection of state Route 83 east toward Rodhe's through to end of Glenn Drive. Glenn Drive contains sections with street trees and significant sections without, particularly near the ballfields. Another area is East Jackson/US 62 east toward Fire Ridge to the corporation limit. This area contains a mix of existing mature trees within the older section of town.
"Trees, like all plants, follow a natural life cycle of growth and eventual decline," Rodhe said. "Within an urban environment there are multiple factors affecting this. Ongoing maintenance is necessary to ensure the maximum life span of the tree while maintaining public safety and managing risk factors such as falling branches."
The Village of Millersburg encompasses approximately 1,427 acres of land. According to 2016 census estimates there are 3,025 residents that reside in either owner occupied or rental occupied for a total 1,358 housing units. There is significant acreage also controlled by private business and other entities such as non-profit corporations. Point being, opportunities exist to expand the urban forest within these privately held land. This may be accomplished through a multi-faceted approach emphasizing: public private partnerships, incentives and education.
MTB is already active in communicating with private entities to request consideration of planting trees whenever businesses abut along streets in town. This effort should be encouraged whenever possible.
Whenever feasible, small grants should be established to permit private property owners the ability to receive trees to plant on private property.
"Various federal, state and local organizations offer educational opportunities on the urban forest. Whenever feasible, these opportunities should be promoted and encouraged with residents," Rodhe said.
Presently, the total land area within the Village of Millersburg is approximately 1,427 acres consisting of a blend of uses including: residential, recreation, trails, commercial and business districts. Like other long term plans such as sewer, water or transportation our urban forest is a valuable capital asset.
The Urban Forest Plan offers a strategy to ensure an expanded, healthy and thriving urban forest now and for the future.
"The first phase of planning discusses the overall urban forest with a primary focus on street trees and landscaping in Millersburg," Rodhe said. "It also makes recommendations for a comprehensive approach to street tree management in town."
Grasshopper Lawn Maintenance has planted several trees throughout the village since Millersburg became a part of Tree City USA.
Phase two is Parks and Open Spaces. "Millersburg contains a significant number of important parks and open space areas," Rodhe said. "These areas often benefit from developing succession strategies for dead or diseased trees, ongoing maintenance planning, and new tree installations."
Phase three is private property by supporting property owners in maintaining and planting trees. "We will examine funding opportunities and trainings that may be offered," Rodhe said. "The village staff, Millersburg Tree Board (MTB), and community organizations will be instrumental in carrying out this work."
Events like the Arbor Day tree planting are included in the continued planting of trees in the village.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.