Monona is on the move to being a healthier, more sustainable community, and you need not look any further than the City’s urban forest!
Monona is well known for its well established tree canopy and numerous mature trees. The City maintains more than 4,500 trees in City-owned right-of-ways and terraces, plus more than 1,000 trees in our City parks. Along with our contracted forester, the City’s Public Works and Parks Departments plant, remove, maintain, and replace these trees annually. Trees clean our air while providing beauty, shade, nutrients, wildlife habitat, stormwater management, and increase our property values. Naturally occurring diseases, blight, and artificially occurring barriers to healthy growth (power lines, underground utilities, improper planting techniques) strain the City’s urban canopy.
Many residents of Wisconsin and the Midwest know well the effects the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has had on our tree population. As the number of ash trees needing removal explodes, due to Emerald Ash Borer infestations, The City has increased it’s forestry budget, and received an Urban Forestry Grant, to keep pace with the decaying tree removals, but still has a ways to go. The City is asking its residents to help fill this gap between mature trees removed and new trees planted by donating to the newly founded Tree Donation Program. This program will raise money to subsidize the City’s tree planting efforts on an annual basis and is an important tool to restoring the City’s urban tree canopy and the health and diversity of the City’s urban forest.
In 2018, the City conducted a full inventory of all the trees located on City property and in public right-of-ways, to better understand the health of the canopy. The study found that 147 of Monona’s 559 Ash trees were either decaying or dead and needed to be removed. Since then, the City has started removing the decaying trees.
In 2020, the City received an Urban Forestry Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to help manage the removal and replacement of EAB infested Ash trees. The grant helps cover the costs of removing trees, but doesn’t fully cover the cost of replacing all the removed trees.
To improve the quality and resiliency of Monona’s tree canopy, the City has a policy of replacing trees at a ratio of 1.5 replacement trees for every 1 tree removed. The City also plans to replace the ash trees with a wide variety of native trees and species that are common in Wisconsin’s urban settings. To accomplish these goals and strengthen the tree canopy, the City started a Forestry Fund and implemented a new Tree Donation Policy.
The City’s new policy guides tree donations for City-owned property, by providing for a tax-deductible contribution (to the extent allowed by law) to the City’s urban forestry system. The goal of this new policy is to support the community to actively participate in increasing the quantity and quality of the City’s urban forest with native species.
Residents and business owners are welcome and invited to donate funds in any amount for the purchase of native trees in honor of friends, family, and other individuals, or in general support of the City’s urban forest. Donations to the City’s Tree Donation program will be retained in a dedicated sinking fund that City staff will utilize to purchase trees from local nurseries for planting within the City’s park system and City-owned rights-of-way. The donor may provide their preference for a park, right-of-way location, or other public property, which staff will consider, however that preference is not guaranteed. As part of this policy, markers or plaques are not allowed to be placed by the tree, however, the City will host a presentation at the tree location with the donor at their request.
The cost of an individual tree(s) will be based on current pricing from local nurseries, and may vary due to species, size, and time of purchase. A typical tree costs approximately $250. Donations are accepted via check made out to the City of Monona (with City Forestry Fund written in the memo line), or via credit card (processing fee may apply). Read the full City of Monona Tree Donation policy here.
To help the City raise funds and grow our tree canopy, the Monona Sustainability Committee is launching a Monona Forestry Challenge. The first 50 Monona residents or businesses who donate $100 or more to the new Forestry Fund or plant a new, native variety tree on their own property will have an additional $25 from the Sustainability Committee donated to the fund in their name.
Click on the flyer below for more information about how to participate. For a list of recommended and native tree species from the City, please click here.