Medina Tree Board chairman stepping down after planting more than 1,000 trees

Photos by Tom Rivers: Chris Busch, chairman of Medina’s Municipal Tree Board, is pictured with Medina elementary students during an Arbor Day celebration at Rotary Park on April 28, 2017. The National Arbor Day Foundation has awarded Medina “Tree City USA” designation for its commitment to community forestry.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 April 2019 at 9:21 am

Chris Busch said arbor effort has been ‘a labor of love’

MEDINA – The chairman of Medina’s Municipal Tree Board has announced his resignation after 15 years of leading Medina’s effort to plant more than 1,000 trees.

Chris Busch is stepping down from the volunteer post on June 1. He will be part of Medina’s Arbor Day celebration this Friday at 9 a.m. This year the Arbor Day party will be at State Street Park at the new pavilion.

Busch pushed for an aggressive tree-planting program in Medina after a state road project took down many trees along the state roads. Many other trees also were toppled in wind storms.

Chris Busch is shown trimming a hackberry tree on Gwinn Street on May 6, 2015. Busch removed some of the lower branches so the tree wouldn’t obstruct pedestrians or have low-lying branches out into the road. Trimming the tree also helps funnel energy into the top of the tree, which will make it grow taller, faster, Busch said.

The Tree Board teamed with the Department of Public Works to put new trees on the main arteries in the village, and the effort has expanded into side streets.

“People have noticed the plantings and the impact,” Busch said on Tuesday. “It was a labor of love and a fun thing to do.”

But the task also has become increasingly demanding, Busch said in a resignation letter that was accepted by the Village Board on Monday.

Funding is always an issue, and there is lots of paperwork in ordering the trees, developing an annual plan and pursuing funding through National Grid, which provides some money for shorter trees that won’t affect the overhead electricity wires.

Medina has been recognized as  a“Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The village is sought after by other communities for advice on crafting a tree ordinance and planting program.

“I am extremely proud of what I and the Tree Board have been able to accomplish during my tenure as board chairman,” Busch writes in his resignation letter. “Medina’s urban forestry program is the envy of other communities far and wide. We are the standard to which other programs are held.”

Busch said former Mayor Howard Lake urged Busch to become involved and help create the Tree Board, which wrote a local law for tree maintenance and plantings.

The Tree Board chairman often was often with loppers, trimming trees with a focus on removing lower branches so the trees would grow taller at a faster pace.

Busch said there is a lot more work to do for the Tree Board.

“There are likely over 1,000 additional planting sites throughout the village,” he said.

In addition, “numerous park trees have critical issues,” he said.

The recently planted trees also are in need of comprehensive scheduled maintenance. Busch also suggested additional training for the DPW tree crew, and a risk survey and an overall tree survey “are badly needed.”

Medina also needs to stay current with its “Tree City” certifications and its applications to National Grid for reimbursement on utility plantings. The Tree Board needs to start work this summer on the site plans for 2020 plantings.

“There is much work left to done in the coming months and years,” Busch said. “Though we have accomplished a great deal, there is still a great deal of work to do.”

Medina in 2019 will mark the 12th year in a row that the village has been awarded the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

This year the village will plant 36 trees, mostly along areas of East Center Street with additional plantings throughout the village, and in State Street Park. Species to be planted in the village this year include Elm, and varieties of Maple, London Plane, Honey Locust and Serviceberry.

“This year, we’re planting approximately half of what we’ve been able to do in the past,” Busch said. “Budgets are tight and the cost of plant material has seen double-digit percentage increases in the last five years. Nonetheless, we are truly pleased to be planting 36 trees this year, with ten of those going in along East Center Street.”

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