LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - If you take a stroll through Lafayette streets and enjoy watching the leaves change color in the fall, or catching a little shade from the summer sun, there is a group of volunteers making sure the trees we enjoy stay healthy.
Two of those volunteers were recently recognized by the state of Indiana for their dedication to urban forestry.
We'll show you how these two make a weekly date to improve Lafayette's landscapedo Larry Rose and Greg Shaner might look at trees with a slightly more critical eye than most of us. They look for balance, how low a limb is hanging, and whether the effects of weather or something else like a large truck, has made a rough cut at a branch leaving the tree more readily open to insects and fungus.
Both are volunteers with Tree Lafayette, a group focused on taking care of the trees that line Lafayette city streets and neighborhoods, and planting more where trees are need.
The group focuses on major corridors.
"Like Ferry Street, South Street, Main Street, um Kossuth Street, we did Greenbush this year," said Rose.
Larry and Greg are pruning a thirty-year-old red maple along Ferry Street near Duncan Hall.
The tree has limbs that are hanging too low according to city ordinance. Several other branches will need to be cut off so new growth can start.
"I grew up on a farm that had maybe 10 acres of trees and my best days were in the woods," said Rose.
When Rose retired and moved back to Lafayette, he got started with Tree Lafayette. The group relies on donations. This year alone they pruned 300, and planted 177.
"It takes seven trees per person to breathe filtered air," said Rose.
Trees in the city's balance emissions from cars and provide protection between people on the sidewalk and the road. But it's the small space where the trees grow that makes it tough.
"It's a pretty rough habitat for them. You know, we have pavement here. We've got concrete over there and just a little bit of green space and this tree is trying to grow," said Shaner.
Shaner is a retired Purdue professor. He spent 40 years working with field crops, only to return to his first interest in forestry.
"I'm getting back thoroughly into trees where I kind of started out and the people are a lot of fun to work with, all a bunch of old retired guys for the most part," said Shaner.
The group is taking inventory of the trees in Lafayette to predict what kind and where more will be needed. Only 10% of one type of tree is planted on each city block so if one species is attacked by insect or fungus, 90% of the trees will remain.
"Pprimarily because emerald ash borer is coming and we're going to lose all the ash trees in the city. So we want to know how many ash trees we're going to be losing. We have the Asian long horn beetle that may be hitting Lafayette sometime in the future and they take care of all the maple trees," said Rose, "We just gotta keep it going. Right now, we're removing more hazardous trees then we are planting."
Both men were honored by the Indiana Urban Forest Council for their volunteer work through Lafayette.
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