Macomb County is getting a whole lot greener with help from the Consumers Energy Foundation. The county received a $250,000 Planet Award in 2022 to enhance the urban tree canopy by planting trees, native shrubs, and pollinator habitat on public land throughout communities that include Mount Clemens, Harrison Township and Roseville. 

So far, over 300 trees and 50 shrubs have been planted, more than 10 acres of prairie have been restored, and the county has been able to leverage their Planet Award to receive an additional $1.5 million in grant funding.  

Healthy tree canopies benefit urban communities tremendously and contribute to cleaner air and water, support flood control, and have mental health benefits for local residents. Homeowners can benefit from lower utility bills and increased property values. 

Macomb County falls short of the 40% tree canopy coverage recommended by the USDA-Forestry Division and is working hard to close the gap.  

“Emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease and in-ground infrastructure work have all played a significant role in our lack of tree cover,” says Gerry Santoro, Program Director for Parks and Natural Resources at Macomb County. “Through the Green Macomb Urban Forest Partnership, we provide resources and education to local communities to support tree plantings and increase the tree canopy.” 

In partnership with local communities, over 300 trees have been planted throughout Shelby Township, Roseville, Mount Clemens, Macomb Township, Stony Creek Metropark, and Lake St. Clair Metropark. Clinton Township has enhanced their Civic Center parking lot through the planting of over 50 native shrubs.?Plantings have been supported with the help of volunteers from the local community, including Consumers Energy employees. 

The county has also been working on a pilot project with local homeowner’s associations to create native habitat around their retention ponds that include trees, shrubs, and native wildflower seed to attract native wildlife. 

Planet Award funding is being leveraged to support numerous projects across the county including planting initiatives, habitat restoration and drain corridor restoration. 

“When we initially applied for the Planet Award, our plan was to focus on plantings,” says Amanda Oparka, Senior Planner for Parks and Natural Resources at Macomb County. “Federal grants started coming out right when we received the award and we’ve been able to leverage these funds as a match for other grants, allowing us to take on additional projects.”

These grants include $1 million from FEMA to acquire 57 acres along the North Branch of the Clinton River in Macomb Township. As a match for the FEMA funds, $100,000 of the Planet Award will be used to convert 14 acres of farmland into forested wetland through the planting of at least 100 trees, 10 acres of native wetland seed mix and 200 shrubs.  

Another project in the works is the restoration of 42 acres of drain corridor through the planting of 500 trees, 8,000 native pollinator plugs and 215 pounds of native grasses and wildflowers. This project is made possible through a $415,500.00 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The county has utilized $30,000 of their Planet Award funding as a match to support this work. 

Learn more about Macomb County’s urban canopy initiatives by visiting https://www.macombgov.org/planning-and-economic-development/parks-and-natural-resources/green-macomb/urban-forest-partnership 

The Planet Awards are one of three signature grant allocations – totaling $1.5 million each year. Nonprofits and municipalities can submit requests for smaller amounts year-round for consideration through the Consumers Energy Foundation’s traditional grantmaking program. Learn more at ConsumersEnergy.com/Foundation.