VALPARAISO | In spring, a city's fancy turn to trees. At least, it does in Valparaiso.
"This city truly appreciates its environment and trees in particular," Mayor Jon Costas said. "Last year, we added more than 300 trees to our urban forest."
Valparaiso has been named a Tree City USA for the past 10 years, and it intends to continue to earn that designation. Toward that end, the city sent residents a reminder this week that trees in the city's right of way - usually the area between the sidewalk and the street - are owned and maintained by the city.
Despite that, the city would like residents' help in spotting problems, such as a hanging branch and damage from insects or disease. These should be reported to the city's Public Works Department, 462-4612.
Public Works Director Matt Evans said, "It's also important to point out street trees may not be planted, pruned or removed without permission.
Residents wanting to plant trees in the right of way also need permission to make sure they comply with the city code as to size, type and proper placement. A list of recommended varieties is available at valpo.us/trees. Residents should always call 811 before digging to locate any underground utilities.
The city is looking for volunteers to join the Shade Brigade to help plant and care for city trees, help raise funds, raise awareness of the urban forest and qualify for grants. Those interested can contact public works or email email@example.com.
Anyone wanting to contribute to the city's tree fund can do so by enrolling to have an amount including in the water bill. Each dollar donated is matched by $7 from a private benefactor and by the city's Redevelopment Commission. A $1 a month donation actually generates $96 a year, which is about enough for one new tree.