MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Saturday, volunteers will gather in Brookdale Park in Brooklyn Center to plant 75 trees. It’s one of the many events across the metro celebrating Arbor Day.

So, how do communities decide where trees will be planted? Good Question.

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Among the trees that will be planted this weekend are river birch and Kentucky Coffee trees. Those are just two of the more than 20 varieties of trees that the Brooklyn Park Park and Building Maintenance Department plant to ensure diversity among the tree species.

“We work very hard at diversifying the stock of trees,” said Greg Hoag, the Park and Building Maintenance Department manager. “We move all around the city, and we don’t just focus on one area.”

(credit: CBS)

After Dutch Elm disease meant cutting down elm trees decades ago, Emerald Ash borer’s discovery in Minnesota in 2009 means cities have to treat or remove ash trees on public lands. Many cities across the metro are trying to plant trees where they’ve had to remove them, and each of the cities has different plans on how to accomplish that.

In Brooklyn Park, the goal is to eventually be able to replace removed trees on a 1:1 ratio. In Minneapolis, the Park and Recreation Board, the organization that runs forestry operations in the entirely City of Minneapolis, is already there. Its 80-person forestry department plants and maintains trees all over the city.

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“We’re fortunate,” said Philip Potyondy, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s sustainable forestry coordinator. “Where a tree is removed, we’re planting a tree as long as there is room for it.”

In cases where it’s too difficult to plant next to a removed tree, Potyondy said the arborists will plant in neighborhoods where there is concentrated poverty or more than 50% people of color.

“We’re trying to do the best we can in terms of equity,” he said.

Funding for tree planting varies across the communities. In Brooklyn Park, money comes from grants from Hennepin County or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In Minneapolis and many other cities, funding comes from the overall city budget.

In addition to adding trees in public spaces, both Potyondy and Hoag encourage people to plant trees on their private property, too.

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“If I can give advice to anybody, it’s never too early to plant a tree,” Hoag said. “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday.”

Heather Brown