By Pete Ostlind

Imagine – a park without trees! Can you picture this? Probably not, trees are the very essence of our downtown parks. Trees are the peace, calm and beauty of open spaces or the wild spectacle during a blustery storm. Trees are the cool shade on hot August afternoons, the home for birds, squirrels and insects, bursts of flowers in the spring. Even in parks with open fields for active sports trees provide that area of shade where players congregate before and after their games. A park without trees?

With the advance of the emerald ash borer into Madison, parks without trees is close to a reality. Well near half of all of the trees in Brittingham and Law Parks are ash trees. The emerald ash borer is 100% fatal to trees which this insect infests. Without treatment all of these trees would die. Imagine a park with far fewer trees.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of downtown businesses, property managers and residents 29 ash trees in Brittingham and Law Parks have received a chemical treatment which will prevent the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer. The Parks Department budget is not sufficient to cover the costs of treating ash trees. Instead the city has created an Adopt-a- Park Tree program where by individuals or organizations can adopt specific park trees and privately contract for the treatment of these trees. CNI has adopted all of the eligible ash trees in these two parks and hired Capital City Tree

Experts to treat each of the trees. The treatment involves injection of an insecticide directly into the trunk of the tree which kills the larval stage of the emerald ash borer. The treatment remains effective for a period of 3 years at which point another treatment will be required.

A number of other trees along the bike path through Brittingham and Law Parks are classified as street trees and are also being treated under the City’s street tree program. This adds another ten trees to the group which will be continue to live and enhance our parks.

In 2015 the Tenny Lapham Neighborhood Association adopted ash trees in James Madison Park with some support from CNI. Between our two neighborhood groups we have adopted all of the eligible ash trees in every downtown Madison park. Imagine a park with trees!

The response to the call for donations was heartening ranging from $5 – $1000. The Echo Tap stepped up with an incredibly generous lead gift. McBride Properties and McGrath Property Group, each with several apartment buildings in the downtown made significant contributions. Our friends at Brittingham Boats, Camp Randall Rowing Club and the Monona Bay Neighborhood Association have been very supportive. Individual donors include; Rozalyn Anderson, Robert Atkins, Brad Cantrell, Charles Cornwell, Kerryann DiLoreto, Robin Douthitt, Paul Gohdes, Ashley Kerst, Rita Lloyd, Thomas Marmet, Bob Mayville, Stef Moritz, Peter Ostlind, Jim Ostrander, Judy Perotti, Carol Poore, Joseph Salmons, Jeanne & Joe Silverberg and Ledell Zellers. A special gift was made by Michelle and Craig Jolly in honor of their friend Michael Hannes, an arborist, who passed away a few years ago.

Please give a thanks to all our donors when you see them. In three years CNI will need to adopt these trees again and provide another treatment. So donations are still valuable. The cost to treat and save an ash tree is only 20 cents per day. Imagine a large canopy tree for 20 cents a day? You can do it. We have a bit of a reserve left to start the next round but we’ll need to keep helping the trees again in three years.

Money may not grow on trees but money can help trees grow. Contributions can be mailed to CNI at PO Box 2613 Madison, WI 53701 or online under the membership tab at

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