Heights Tree People plants 1,000th tree

Bill Hanavan, Laura Marks, and Kathy Smachlo planting Heights Tree People's 1,000th tree.

On Oct. 5, Heights Tree People (HTP) planted its 1,000th tree. The volunteer group, which began planting trees—for free—in Cleveland Heights and University Heights in 2019, planted the red oak at Cleveland Heights High School, near the corner of Cedar and Lee roads, inside the school property’s fence.

The location for this milestone tree was chosen intentionally. Henry Caine, great-grandfather of HTP co-founder Laura Marks, was a local leader who, in the early 1890s, supported the extension of the Cedar Road trolley line from Coventry Road to Green Road. However, at the corner of Cedar and Lee stood a large elm—six feet in diameter—that was slated for removal to make room for the trolley.

Although the Heights community supported the extension of the trolley line, residents—in true Heights fashion—turned out to protest the planned tree removal. As a result, both Cedar Road and the trolley line were rerouted, and the elm tree remained, standing as an emblem of the Heights’ sense of activism and its commitment to preserving the natural environment. (Today, the elm is long gone; it was an old tree, even then.)

HTP honored this history on Oct. 5, while also looking forward to the future—to the myriad benefits this red oak will provide in the coming decades, and to a new chapter for Heights Tree People, as the group takes the next step in its development to become an independent nonprofit organization.

In recent months, HTP has received multiple grants to help fund its work. One such grant, from FutureHeights, is funding critical young-tree care for dozens of trees recently planted on Nela View Road. As part of that neighborhood’s housing redevelopment effort, the city of Cleveland Heights planted 45 trees on the street’s tree lawns, and HTP planted two—one each in the front yards of two homeowners who contacted the group to request them.

In partnership with Heights Libraries, HTP received a Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant to plant an urban mini-forest behind the Coventry PEACE Campus building. (This grant is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County.)

HTP is still accepting requests for the fall planting of free front-yard trees in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. To request one, visit heightstreepeople.com or e-mail heightstreepeople@gmail.com. The group usually continues its work until Thanksgiving, and can plant trees until the ground freezes. If HTP is not able to get someone’s tree planted in the fall, that request will be first on the schedule for spring planting.

To request a free tree-lawn tree from the city of Cleveland Heights, call 216-601-3717 or e-mail pwd@clevelandheights.gov. University Heights residents should send an e-mail to apennington@universityheights.com or call 216-932-8531 to request a tree-lawn tree.

Josie Moore

Josie Moore is a Cleveland Heights resident, mom, and partner. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and community building, and is a member of Heights Tree People.

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Volume 16, Issue 11, Posted 12:02 PM, 10.30.2023