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Reforesting the city in honor of others

Superior Mayor Jim Paine, fourth from right, holds onto one of the tribute trees planted along East Second Street by Barkers Island Inn following a dedication ceremony June 6. He is surrounded by Rotarians and others who represent the organizations and people honored by the trees. (Maria Lockwood)

Trees offer shade, filter storm water and beautify the landscape. Five trees recently planted along East Second Street also serve as a thank you, a memorial and a sign of growth.

Barker's Island Inn donated them through the city of Superior's Tribute Tree Program. The trees honor the Richard I. Bong Veteran's Historical Center, AMSOIL founder Al Amatuzio, local Rotary Clubs, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival, and the Barker's Island Marina and its boaters.

"It's a sign of growth and rebirth and a place for somebody to go and remember a loved one, but also a sign for businesses," said Shannon Olson, general manager of Barker's Island Inn. "These trees ... are a sign to the community that this company is here to stay and here to grow with the community and this is their way, too, of saying thank you for everything you've done for us as a company."

About 40 tribute trees were planted this spring in honor of loved ones, friends and organizations, city officials said.

"It's part of giving back," said Kent Oliver, chairman of Oliver Companies, which owns Barker's Island Inn.

Amatuzio was honored for his contribution to the community. His son, Dan, attended a brief proclamation for the trees last week. It's the first tree to be planted in the AMSOIL founder's honor as far as he is aware.

"I think it's awesome," Dan Amatuzio said. "I heard about this, and I seemed to be the only one available. I volunteered. I said I've got to come over and represent the family."

Tribute trees are planted every spring and fall. Each donation helps to re-forest the city, which lost more than 3,000 ash trees between 2013-2016 after the emerald ash borer was discovered in Superior.

"This is a great program," said Linda Cadotte, director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, but it's not the only option. "You can also pull a no-fee permit so the city can basically approve your location and species, and just buy your own tree and plant your own tree."

The city aims to diversify, so there are no more than 10 percent of any one tree species in Superior. The Barker's Island Inn donations, for example, were Turkish filbert and hackberry saplings.

When the emerald ash borer was discovered, nearly one-third of the city's 10,000 trees were ash. Their loss left many boulevards treeless. Although the city plants 400 trees a year, Cadotte said they are five years behind in replanting those sites.

Oliver said he will consider planting more trees in the future, especially after the new Hampton Inn opens this month.

"We're changing the landscape a little bit," Oliver said.

Information on tree planting standards, recommended trees, tree permits and the Tribute Tree program available through the city website, under the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department's Trees (Urban Forest) and Tribute Tree tabs.