Trees as Important as Streets in Hutchinson, Minnesota


The time has arrived when having an abundance of healthy trees is just as important to a city as a network of well maintained streets, according John Olson, public works supervisor for the City of Hutchinson, Minnesota.The City is located approximately 60 miles west of the Twin CIties of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Olson told Hutchinson City Council  that trees are becoming increasingly more valuable to cities interested in reducing their impact on the environment. Trees can cut energy use and reduce rainwater run-off and pollution.

“The green infrastructure we have is just as important as our gray (streets) infrastructure as we try to reduce our impact on the environment,” he said. “But green infrastructure has a life cycle, too.”

And similar to streets that eventually need replacement, the time comes when old, diseased trees must to be cut down and young trees planted in their place. That requires investment by private residents for trees in their yard and by the city for boulevard trees.

Hutchinson Utilities has been providing the city with energy conservation money for several years. It is used to plant trees in places where they can shade homes, thus reducing energy consumption for air conditioning, City Forester Mark Schnobrich said.

Fifty-one homes are getting such trees this year through the Energy Tree Plantings program. A total of 97 trees will be planted this year. More than 2,000 have been planted in the past decade.

Another city program, funding by fees developers pay, is designed to plant boulevard trees in new developments. Fifty-five such trees are going into new neighborhoods on Hutchinson’s southeast, southwest and northwest corners.

While some trees are planted and grow, others have come to the end of their life. Diseased trees, such as those infected by Dutch elm disease, are removed each year. Sixty-three trees of all types have been cut down this year, with another 98 tagged, including 46 elms, Schnobrich said. That follows a 2006 cutting total of 175. That is well below the 880 trees removed in 1979 during the height of the Dutch elm disease infestation.

Trees are valuable to homeowners because studies have shown that each large front yard tree increases the sale price of a home by 1 percent, he added.


Story by Terry Davis, staff writer

Reprinted from the Hutchinson Leader at

July 12, 2007