City gets grant for Starin Park arboretum


Dauntae Green, Managing Editor

The city of Whitewater received the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Grant that was $25,000 to use as financial support to create the Arboretum in Starin Park. Whitewater loses 20 trees each year, and Starin Park has 50 trees that are declining. The hope now for Whitewater to fix declining numbers of trees is by making Starin Park into an arboretum, place for a garden, for many people to learn about trees, plants, and be in a place they can enjoy. The Whitewater Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) worked together with the Parks and Recreation and the community on getting this grant and financial support in order to start preparing to get an arboretum.

The DNR Urban Forestry Grant is an opportunity to create the chance to bring back many more trees, plants, shrubbery, and create a place for people to go to. The UFC grabs the chance to get it, was awarded the grant, and the goal for the grant will be used.

“Sponsors grants for projects in the state that are going to increase the tree canopy, increase the number of trees planted. One of the goals is to get more trees planted on private land. The idea of an arboretum  is a living tree museum, it’s a living tree classroom by providing in the community as a teaching space for people of all ages to be able to come and connect with nature and to learn more about trees. The goal is to inspire them to plant more trees on their own property,” said chairperson of the UFC organization Sherry Stanek. 

The UFC has a process that would go on to create the arboretum with the help of the grant.

“Starting to build an arboretum in a corn field or some other undeveloped area, we have the 35 acres steering park that is already home to probably about 550 trees. We plan to plant another 150 trees and shrubs in the year 2022. We also plan to host a community tree sale to make trees available to residents in the community and purchase trees that will line up with this spring’s Arbor Day and Earth day. which is really earth week, world laboratory bird date, which is the last week in April. Going into the 1st week of May, which is also when we’re hoping to have the presentation of the grand opening of the arboretum,” said Stanek. 

The UFC hopes that this arboretum will make a difference in the community in many ways.

“The arboretum is not a replacement for anything in the park, but it’s also going to be a more interesting place in a lot of aspects. One, it can be a natural retreat, another is an outdoor classroom, a place for workshops, and we’re dividing the arboretum up into several different zones. We’re starting off with one called the food forest. It’s gonna be an area of the park where we’re going to be focusing on trees and shrubs that provide food. That’s going to be a really fun place for people to learn and to experience plant life. We want to make a very positive mark,” said Urban Forestry Commission member Jim Nies.

The UFC plans on creating the arboretum by the end of spring of 2022, and make developments with a welcome center soon for the arboretum. They will be installing microchips into trees at the Park that guests can scan with their phones via barcode to learn more about the trees. Be ready to learn about trees, nature, and the local natural environment.