MICHIGAN - On July 2, 1997, a series of tornadoes and straight-line winds resulted in several deaths and millions of dollars damage in southeast Michigan. Communities were faced with downed power lines, blocked streets, downed and damaged trees, and mountains of tree debris. Many of the problems were associated with the infrastructure and building damage impacted by large older trees. The clean up took months.
The funding by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program allowed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Forest Management Division, the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the Michigan Department of State Police, Emergency Management Division to present four seminars to provide information to municipalities on choosing the type of tree to plant, what locations are best for planting, and how to maintain them to increase tree health, decrease hazard trees, and decrease susceptibility to storm damage.
The audience consisted of community decision makers and managers, urban foresters and others responsible for tree planting and maintenance, county emergency managers, and the Michigan Department of State Police, Emergency Management Division's district coordinators. By grouping different people together from each community to discuss urban forestry helped promote a more successful program.
Afterwards, due to strong positive feedback from attendees, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided to continue the educational seminars throughout the State. This continued education is the key to reduction of damages and clean-up costs in Michigan.