City to celebrate Arbor Day

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BDN file photo (From left): Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, Beloit Councilor Nancy Forbeck, City of Beloit Public Works Director Laura Pigatti Williamson, City Manager Lori Curtis Luther, City Councilor Clinton Anderson and City Council Vice President Regina Dunkin help plant a tree during last year's Arbor Day celebration in Beloit. The city was recognized in 2018 for its three decades as a Tree City USA member by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

BELOIT - After 30 years with the designation of "Tree City USA," Beloit will once again celebrate nature this Friday with an Arbor Day event at McNeel Intermediate School, according to city forestry staff.

Forestry Supervisor Mike Ferger said the event will kick off at 10 a.m. with a tree planting with students at the school at 1524 Frederick St. Public officials scheduled to attend include State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, City Manager Lori Curtis Luther, City Council President Regina Dunkin and Pastor Joel Otto.

Last year, the city celebrated three decades of dedicated urban forestry management and Beloit recently received its 31st recognition as a Tree City USA.

Beloit is home to over 30,000 trees in a 17-square-mile radius. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 21.5 percent of the city consists of tree cover - just below the state's average of 28.8 percent of tree canopy.

The city's Tree City designation comes from the Arbor Day Foundation and requires cities to establish a tree board, a tree-care ordinance and have an annual forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and host an Arbor Day event, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Only 190 communities across the country have received the Tree City USA designation.

Each year, Ferger looks to plant a variety of trees to provide cover against blithesome hazards and insect infestations, along with offering city residents a chance to get trees planted along public right of ways on residential properties at no charge.

In 2018, 173 trees were planted, and Ferger said he hopes to plant more than 200 this year. The deadline for terrace tree planting requests is May 24.

The city has been in a fight with the emerald ash borer - an insect that wrecks large ash trees - since 2012. Crews have systematically removed hundreds of dead or dying ash trees, with the city funding ash tree removal efforts. Since 2012, it's estimated over 800 ash trees have been removed from the city.

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