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The original item was published from 11/13/2020 4:08:27 PM to 1/30/2021 12:00:04 AM.

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City of Coldwater News

Posted on: November 13, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Coldwater's Tree Canopy Assessed by Watershed Research Coalition

River and Flowers

Over the last year, the City of Coldwater participated in a research project run by a coalition of several organizations aiming to preserve and improve the St. Joseph River Watershed. The project assessed and compiled information regarding Coldwater's effect on the watershed, identifying strategies for increasing tree canopy to intercept stormwater, reduce runoff, improve water quality, and much more.  

In 2019, ReLeaf Michigan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the St. Joseph River Basin Commission, and Davey Resource Group, Inc. received a USDA Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant. This grant allowed the coalition to assist six communities in the St. Joseph River watershed. The grant provided funding to assess and understand the communities' tree canopy and identify strategies that increase tree canopy and improve water quality within the St. Joseph River watershed and, in turn, the Great Lakes basin.

"A natural ecosystem is very dynamic and develops to deal with large quantities of water before inundating lakes and streams," said Coldwater Director of Municipal Services Todd Mistor, "which could lead to catastrophic flooding events. In addition, it can prevent degraded water quality from polluted surface runoff. Our built environments have lots of paved and impervious surfaces that direct large rainfall quantities to our lakes and streams. A study like this helps us understand ways communities like us can target gaps in our tree canopy and function more like the natural ecosystem."

The coalition solicited communities within the watershed for applications, a request Coldwater pursued. "We responded to their invitation and were accepted," said Coldwater City Manager Keith Baker. "Coldwater earned distinction as a Tree City USA from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the fourteenth consecutive year in 2019, and we are sure that helped us during the selection process. We also have the Sauk River running through the City, which is a tributary of the St. Joseph River." The other accepted cities include Angola, IN, Buchanan, MI, Middlebury, IN, Sturgis, MI, and Syracuse, IN.

Coldwater had many facets of its influence on the watershed examined in the study, including its Land Cover Classification, Tree Canopy Related to Land Use, Priority Planting Areas, Canopy Percent, and more. The coalition used this information to create a web-based report that describes the findings of the assessments and provides community forest management recommendations for Coldwater based on the project's results. A section of the report on Coldwater is devoted just to this purpose. The report can be found online at this website:

"This is a great planning tool for city government," said Mistor. "The study will help illustrate the value of trees in our landscape, especially as related to water quality, and will also show areas where our tree canopy is lacking. This information will be used to direct our future tree planting efforts to areas where they might be more impactful on overall environmental quality. It will also be helpful when the City pursues additional grant funding for tree planting efforts."

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