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Trees We Love. The title couldn’t be simpler. Three short words to stand in for, in my opinion, the single most pondered, painted, photographed, thought about, talked about and beloved masterpiece of nature in the world. Trees don’t shout out or beg to be noticed but these silent curators of history deserve to be put on pedestals, admired, appreciated and recognized; and that is exactly what Hoy Audubon Society’s Trees We Love program has set out to do.

In a nutshell, Trees We Love receives tree nominations from any and all — stewards, admirers, young or old, whomever may have a favorite tree they would like to see receive formal recognition. We receive nominations; we site-visit such; we determine age, height and spread, and we award trees. All nominations receive arborist and committee site visits and complimentary letters detailing species, measurements and approximate age. Full awards receive bronze plaques, archival history detailing the site or history of the tree, a written narrative and a framed photo.

2018 Hoy Audubon Society’s/Trees We Love has completed its third year with three full awards, two honorary awards and one thank you award. Recipients are:

Trees We Love Award

  • Black Maple — Approximate age, 170 years; stewards, the DeKoven Center; nominator, Ralph Anderson.
  • White Oak — Approximate age, 210 years; stewards, Tracy and Steve Swantz, 6612 Brever Road, Burlington.
  • Bur Oak — Approximate age, 188 years; stewards, Tricia and Matt Schlegel, 3309 19th St., Racine; nominator, Audrey Fedor.

Honorable mention

  • Hoptree, age unknown; species of significance/concern, Shoop Park, Wind Point; nominator, Melissa Warner.
  • Cottonwood — 100-120 years (considered to be one of the largest in Racine County), Pan Yack Road, Kansasville; nominator, Judy Amundsen.

Acknowledgement of preservation efforts

  • Bur Oak — Approximate age, more than 300 years old, 12706 Braun Road (Phase II, FoxConn), former homeowners, George and Vellabe Creuziger. Framed picture presented to Claude Lois and MT Boyle.

The folks we have met, the trees we have seen, the things we have learned and the history we have received have been fascinating, inspiring and heartening.

The trees

Trees include European beeches (non-native) whom were most certainly planted by first immigrants and settlers; bur oaks whom in infancy were forest trees, now on small urban plots, or stately country lawns; white oaks who witnessed the last of the Wisconsin wild buffalo; native larch, certainly alive prior to village creation; camperdownii elm, the elite tree most certainly planted in commemoration of a Civil War event; the Indian pointer oak, marking an ancient Indian trail; matriarch sugar maples, the crowning glory of autumn; the black maple planted at the same time as the better known historical gem, The DeKoven Center; the stately sycamore, or as the Indians named them The Ghosts in the Forest; the native seemingly-unimportant, but-oh-so significant, hoptree, and the stately cottonwood, willow, apple and magnolia. The list goes on.

Stewards

Trees We Love also recognizes the stewards and nominators and their passion and deep love for their land and the trees. George and Vellabe Creuziger, while taking on the heartbreaking task of leaving their generations owned farm, took the time to nominate their massive, 300-year-old bur oak in an effort to save it from Foxconn construction.

Racine County supervisors responded immediately and pointed me in the direction of MT Boyle, chief of staff to Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, and Claude Lois, Foxconn project manager for the Village of Mount Pleasant. The inspiring stewards literally altered road construction and wrapped the massive tree roots to protect it from exposure and to ensure its survival.

Trees We Love recognizes the awe-inspiring oak savannahs, the parks, the cemeteries, the cathedrals of pocket old-growth forest, and nominations from individuals and non-owners seeking recognition for a favorite tree in their neighborhood, along the path of a favored ramble or a pass by on a daily drive.

Trees We Love is a quality program, spanning many months. We begin in March or so and award in November. It takes the time and the passion of the committee, the archivists and the arborists.

May Trees We Love continue to encourage and inspire folks to get out of the weeds and into the trees, to protect and appreciate our living history, and to perhaps ensure that these grand and noble trees live out their lives.

To learn more about Hoy Audubon Society’s Trees We Love, go to hoyaudubon.org/TreesWeLove.

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