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Friends of Grand Rapids Parks want to plant 10,000 trees in the city

The organization's new executive director says he wants to make Grand Rapids the "healthiest, happiest, and most park and shade equitable city in America."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On a Monday afternoon, Richmond Park was full of families enjoying the pleasant weather. Whether or not they were aware that it was "National Love A Tree Day," they were celebrating the occasion.

Stacy Bare, the new executive director at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, wants to make sure more people in the city get to reap the benefits of a dense urban tree canopy. 

"That tree canopy improves mental health, physical health, storm water, clean air and then also lowers utility bills if we have a lot of shade," Bare said.

Bare and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks have made it a goal to plant 10,000 trees in the city in the next three to five years.

He also wants to see Grand Rapids follow what's known as the "3-30-300" rule. It states that wherever you are in the city, you should be able to see at least three trees, that every neighborhood should have at least a 30% tree canopy, and that no one should be any more than 300 meters away from a city park or greenspace.

"We're really lucky in Grand Rapids with the millage. People have really invested and put a lot of time and energy into the parks, and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has this awesome opportunity to leverage so much of what the city is doing," Bare said.

"We're also really lucky in Grand Rapids that we have an awesome ally in Grand Rapids Public Schools, because they're also really interested in making sure that we help meet the goal and that the playground spaces and recess spaces for Grand Rapids Public Schools also double as parks."

Bare also says he wants to make sure people know that city parks are for everyone.

"Our vision is really the healthiest, happiest, most park and shade equitable city in America," he said.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks plants trees in the spring and fall. If you'd like to volunteer for one of their plantings, keep an eye on their events page.

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