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Cyclists ride 600 miles to save urban forests

Everyone appreciates the beauty of trees, but they also provide many of life’s vital essentials such as oxygen, food and shelter. And thanks to grants from the TREE Fund, researchers and organizations are working to provide communities and tree care professionals with resources and strategies to better propagate, plant and care for our urban canopies. This month, nearly 100 cyclists and tree enthusiasts will pedal through the Carolinas from Oct.9-15 to raise awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars as a part of the 24th annual STIHL Tour des Trees, a weeklong cycling fundraiser to benefit the TREE Fund.

“The STIHL Tour des Trees is unquestionably our most important, high-impact community engagement event,” says TREE Fund President and CEO J. Eric Smith. “We literally take our show on the road for a full week in a different part of the country each year, providing national exposure to the importance of tree research and education to a healthy urban canopy. We meet with community advocates, schoolchildren, media outlets, tree workers, homeowners, municipal leaders and just regular folks along the road, and our volunteers’ knowledge and enthusiasm is truly infectious. It’s also extraordinary how hard our riders work to generate funds for research, and how generous our corporate partners are in defraying our operating expenses, so that 100% of the funds raised by our volunteers go straight to research.”

With the help of the STIHL Tour des Trees, TREE Fund has helped fund research grants totaling nearly $3 million since 2002. Recent projects and studies supported by the TREE Fund have focused on:

  • Urban Forests as Storm Water Systems — Dr. Susan Day of Virginia Tech examines the role of canopy structures and ground cover in storm water mitigation.
  • Can Soil Amendments Reduce Disease Severity in Trees? — Dr. Glynn Percival of Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory focuses on the issue of finding alternatives to synthetic chemicals for controlling various tree diseases.
  • A Soil Management Toolbox for Urban Trees — Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch and Dr. Les Werner of the University of Wisconsin are developing soil management toolboxes for urban tree managers.

TREE Fund not only assists with critical tree research, but it also helps fund education programs aimed at connecting young people with the environment and career opportunities in the green industries. Some of the recent TREE Fund education grant recipients are:

  • Asheville GreenWorks — The organization helped to provide tree detective kits to public schools and libraries to promote interactive learning about trees.
  • Greening of Detroit — Their project, Our LAND (Learn, Admire, Nurture and Dream) serves students by providing on-site field experiences and service learning opportunities taking place in Rouge Park – Detroit’s largest park.
  • McCrory Gardens, South Dakota State University — The gardens hosted a junior arborist camp designed to acquaint middle school and high school students with the careers available in arboriculture.

The STIHL Tour des Trees, North America’s largest fundraiser for tree research already raised more than $200,000 this year and plans on exceeding the $300,000 mark. Tour participants come from all walks of life, but cycle for a common goal – to promote the importance of continued research to support science-based tree care.

Learn more at stihltourdestrees.org.

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