City Council: After devastating storm, tree giveaway planned
BEMIDJI — The yard in front of the house Elizabeth Edwards shares with her parents looks much different today than it did last year.
For one, they now have a view of Lake Avenue Southeast that was once blocked by their trees. The July 2012 windstorms then came around, knocking down trees in their yard and thousands more across the region.
"It leveled out quite a few trees," Edwards said.
In an effort to help city property owners who may have lost trees during the July 2 storm, the city of Bemidji is holding a tree giveaway Thursday, and possibly Friday if there are still trees left.
In a way, this year’s tree giveaway is the revival of an old city council tradition.
Ward 5 Councilor Nancy Erickson, who served on the council before being returning in November, said she and fellow councilors used to hold similar events in front of Bemidji City Hall.
This year, however, the idea came about during meetings to discuss the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board’s comprehensive plan.
"We were brainstorming and talking about what is feasible, what is possible that we can do to improve our city, particularly after the storm," Erickson said.
That storm produced straight-line winds in excess of 80 mph, knocking down thousands of trees in the area, including Erickson’s ward.
"Up and down Lincoln Avenue, up and down Central Avenue, up and down all of Nymore," Erickson said.
Last month, the City Council approved Erickson’s request for $1,000 for the tree giveaway. Almost 500 spruce and pine and trees will go to property owners who live in city limits starting at 10 a.m. Thursday at Bemidji City Hall.
Those hoping to get a tree must bring either a sewer and water bill or a property tax statement to prove their residency. Each resident will be limited to one tree.
If they don’t run out by 4 p.m. Thursday, trees will be available again 10 a.m. Friday.
Marcia Larson, city parks and recreation director, said they are starting to replant trees lost in the storm in public parks. But helping out private property owners will help reforest Bemidji as well, she said.
"I think replacing, or offering an opportunity for people to replace the trees they lost is a great idea," Larson said.