Local nonprofit offers free trees to 18 Madison, Fitchburg neighborhoods

Local nonprofit offers free trees to 18 Madison, Fitchburg neighborhoods

One of Madison’s most precious resources, or any city for that matter, is our tree canopy. In recent memory, elm trees and now ash trees have fallen to disease and insects.

A nine-member urban forestry task force has been looking how to increase the canopy on both public and private land. Part of that effort is the Urban Tree Alliance’s Madison Canopy Project.

The Alliance offers one or two free trees to residence in 18 neighborhoods in Madison and Fitchburg. Jeremy Kane is the director of the nonprofit says the neighborhoods were selected for a reason.

“When we started this program we did a pretty comprehensive mapping of the city and the canopy coverage and then basically came up with a percentage for each neighborhood and then ranked those,” Kane said.

The city of Madison owns and maintains some 100,000 trees along more than 700 miles of city streets and is responsible for hundreds of thousands more located in parks, golf courses and cemeteries, about 15 percent of the urban canopy. Private property owners make up the rest.

Maintaining and adding to those private trees is why the Alliance offers one or two free trees to property owners who want them. Another goal is to diversify the canopy to avoid planting too many of one species.

“We’re trying to introduce diversity into the forest here, so we don’t, for example, plant maple trees,” Kane said. “It’s not because maple trees in themselves are a problem, but again if you look at the whole forest, probably somewhere around 40% of the trees are maples.”

Now in its sixth year, the Madison Canopy Project has added more than 800 trees to the city’s urban canopy.

To find out more about the project, see if you live in a selected neighborhood, and to request a tree check out the group’s website: urbantreealliance.org.

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