By: Jeremy Allen, mlive.com
Flint, MI (September 21, 2012) – The U.S. Forest Service awarded the city of Flint a $250,000 grant for the second round of tree planting at the Chevy in the Hole brownfield site. The grant will go toward planting approximately 1,000 trees as part of phase two in the city’s efforts to remove contaminants from the ground at the site and in the adjacent Flint River.
Steve Montle, program manager for the Chevy in the Hole project, said that the plan to plant trees is one that solves multiple problems at the site in a cost-efficient manner. “Chevy in the Hole is a longstanding problem for the city of the Flint. It’s a giant scar that sits right in the center of our corridor in the city of Flint and it’s moderately contaminated,” Montle said.
“What that means is that in the ground there are various contaminants that aren’t necessarily dangerous for humans, but they aren’t good things. We came up with this strategy because it is fairly low in cost, and this will pretty quickly green the area up and break down the chemicals in the soil.”
The city first received a grant of $375,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July 2011 to survey the eastern portions of the property, to plant trees and install an irrigation system at the site. More than 1,000 trees were planted on a 60-acre portion of Chevy in the Hole during the first phase when planting took place on April 27.
Some of the trees planted from the first phase, Montle said, have already grown to nearly a dozen feet tall, but it will take a few years for the trees to extract contaminants from the land.
“Some trees we this spring are already 12 feet tall,” he said. “We don’t anticipate seeing any sort of remarkable impact from these trees for about two to three years until after the roots have really gotten in and had a chance to pick up the contaminants. A mature tree can take up 40-60 gallons of groundwater per day, so you can imagine how much groundwater that moves through this site per day when a few thousand trees are in the ground.”
Fast-growing species such as willows, poplars, spruce, dogwood and river birch will be planted in areas of the site to put the root systems of the trees in contact with contaminated soil and groundwater. The root systems will absorb the toxic substances and, overtime, reduce the environmental contamination.
“The second round of funding is aligned with the long-term goal of making the Flint River corridor a green, healthy, natural area that is an asset to the community,” said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling. “The strong partnership with Flint and the federal government is vital for moving this project forward.”
The funding comes from the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program, which is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advance the restoration of the Great Lakes through a variety of forest conservation activities.
Montle said that this is still only one of many phases in a grand plan. He explained that the lifespan of these fast-growing trees is only about 25 years, so there will be other trees, such as red oaks, that will be planted to keep the area green for many more decades.
“We’ll do several more rounds of planting,” he said. “This grant is a very specific grant just for planting the trees. Overall we expect to do a planting this fall and another in the spring, depending on how fast we can turn this grant around through the city.”
Partners in the local project also include the Center for Community Progress, Kettering University, Genesee County Land Bank, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Flint River Corridor Alliance and the Flint River Watershed Coalition.
Original article source: mlive.com, Flint receives second tree-planting grant, $250,000 for Chevy in the Hole