When Brian Martin took the job of Assistant Superintendent in the Wyandotte Public Services Department, he really had no idea it was going to lead to a love affair with trees.
But it has.
Martin had previously worked for Wayne County, working road construction and in the parks division. When he came to Wyandotte, tree trimming and maintenance was part of his new job.
To better understand that aspect of the position, Martin took a training course and became an arborist recognized by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
ISA exists so that professionals, allied professionals, public officials, and consumers worldwide recognize the economic, environmental, and societal benefits and values of trees and their care at a cost that demonstrates the wise stewardship of resources.
Martin takes continuing education classes through ISA to stay current and up-to-date.
“Being part of this group helps us be more tree responsible as a city,” Martin said.
Today, he is Wyandotte’s tree guy.
Being an arborist has helped plug Martin into the “tree world” and with that comes knowledge of and information about grants and other programs that can benefit the city.
“There are multiple grants out there, but you have to be aware of them and know how to get them,” Martin said. Martin has written for and received several grants that have added to Wyandotte’s tree stock.
His most recent acquisition is money from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for 40 more trees to be planted soon.
The first batch of 19 trees will be planted at the Joseph R. Peterson Justice Building. Three of those trees will be memorial trees, including one for former Mayor Joe Peterson who died last year.
There will be a formal planting ceremony featuring city leaders on April 30 at 9 a.m.
The other 21 trees from the grant will be planted on Arbor Day throughout the city.
Twenty more trees are also coming from another grant Martin recently wrote for.
In his relatively short time with the city, Martin has done a lot of work, including revamping the list of approved tree species in the city. Where there once was a list of about 15 trees, Martin has helped increase it to about 90.
Martin’s department can also now make recommendations about what type of trees to plant where. For example, there is a list of small, medium and large trees. If you are planting in a small easement strip between the sidewalk and the street, you would be directed toward the list of small trees. Other areas can use trees from the medium and even large list.
“When we plant, we make different decisions,” said Martin. “We recently did a planting at Beaver Park and we used all native Michigan Trees. When we plant at the Peterson Building, we have to take into account some of these trees are being planted in islands in the parking lot.”
Martin said he is happy with the tree situation in Wyandotte, but added, “there is always room for improvement.”
“I would love to see more trees planted in Wyandotte and in southeast Michigan, generally,” he said. “And we need to be conscious about saving old growth trees. The benefits from a 60-100 year old tree outweigh other considerations.”
Martin said becoming an arborist has opened up a whole new world to him.
“I am still learning,” he said. “And the other arborists I come in contact with are just a great group of guys to talk to and to learn from.
“Talking about trees just puts a smile on my face.”
For now Martin said he will keep pushing forward with grants, hoping to keep increasing Wyandotte’s tree line.
So the next time you are out, look up, way up, and say thanks to a tree. They give us oxygen and shade and beautify our landscape.
Maybe say thanks to Brian Martin, too. Wyandotte’s tree guy.