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home : opinion : editorial May 28, 2016

4/30/2014 11:59:00 AM
Year of the tree

Last week's Citizen contained a page 1 story which delivered news that should be heartening to virtually every resident of Windom - more new trees are on the way!
To some, this may not seem like earth shattering news. However, imagine for a moment a community with just a smattering of trees. Wouldn't that be dull and drab?
If Windom were to sit still and do nothing over the next several years, such a scene could actually play itself out. It is well-documented that Windom's tree supply is dominated by ash trees.
Of course a large supply of ash is a dangerous thing at a time when the deadly Emerald Ash Borer is lurking in eastern Minnesota and Iowa.
This situation stems partly from Dutch Elm Disease, which wiped out countless Windom trees during the 1970s and 1980s. City leaders and individual residents made the mistake of gravitating to one species - the ash - when it came time to replace the diseased elms.
A few years ago, it became obvious that Windom was headed toward a repeat of the elm situation, only this time it involves the ash tree. According to Dave Bucklin of the Cottonwood Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ash Borer's arrival is not a matter of if  - "it's when."
That's why the Windom tree commission is doing the right thing - with the city council's support - by planting more than two dozen trees per year in our community.
City doubles tree effort
This spring, the number of city-purchased trees will jump to 60-plus. That's because Windom is replacing a number of boulevard trees lost during the city street project of 2013.
As usual, Windom will see a wide variety of trees, including maple, hackberry, linden and elm. You'll notice that none of those are ash trees.
These trees do more than look pretty on a boulevard. They have practical benefits. Here are a couple:
• According to the Department of Agriculture, "The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day."
• The USDA Forest Service reports, "The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Wooded areas help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams."
The Toro donation
In addition to the city-sponsored tree program, Windom is getting a significant boost from an unexpected source: The Toro Company.
Company officials recently announced that Toro will plant more than 100 trees at the Windom Recreation Area in honor of the company's 100th anniversary. The trees will be planted this spring by Toro employees.
In a sense, this is a historical year for the community. It's a safe bet that Windom has never seen as many as 162 trees planted in one spring.
What folks won't necessarily see is the hard work that goes into this project after the trees have been planted. City street department workers have done an excellent job of caring for new trees at Island Park, the Windom Recreation Area and other parts of town. Now they will have to care for 100-plus new trees at the Rec Area and other parks.
Make no mistake, this is a critical project for our community and its future. It not only positions us for the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer, it cools neighborhoods, restricts runoff and does wonders for our environment and the way we look at our community.
It may not be so obvious today, but we're confident future generations will reflect on this era and marvel at the foresight and wisdom of this community tree planting program.
- Rahn Larson

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