Final phase of Taking Root project focuses on city’s entry points - January 25 2012

OSHKOSH, WI - The third and final phase of Oshkosh's acclaimed Taking Root beautification project is aimed at making a "green" first impression on visitors who enter the city from the five highway exits into the city from U.S. 41.

Planning is underway for tree and landscape planting and the installation of wayfinding signs to major visitor attractions in spring 2012.

The work will be the final step of the project that was launched in January of 2010. Through Taking Root, more than 2,400 trees have been planted along city streets and in parks, flower beds have been added to parks and public spaces and historical information signs have been installed at several city parks.

"This project has been nothing short of amazing. We raised $500,000 in a short amount of time, planted a lot more trees than we ever thought we could, and had incredible support from the community, the city and the DNR," said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

"When you drive through the streets, you can see the difference and you have to think what an impact (the trees) will make five years from now. ? I think it creates a wonderful legacy for Oshkosh."

Beautification efforts in 2012 will focus on the areas around five major highway exits at U.S. 41 and State 44, Ninth Street, State 21, Algoma Boulevard/U.S. 45 and Jackson Street/State 76, and will include:
  • Larger tree species for a big impact
  • Landscape beds in areas dominated by concrete
  • Wayfinding signs to about 20 popular destinations

The plantings will be primarily on private property. Individuals and businesses will be contacted to participate at no cost to them and at no cost to city tax payers. Private property owners will be able to choose from several different tree species, all of which will be backed by a warrantee from the grower.

The exact locations have not been determined and will depend on future utility and road work. Volunteers will be sought to contact property owners and facilitate the plantings.

Interested parties should contact the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation at 920-426-3993 or by email.

Previous phases of the project targeted residential terraces, the public space between the sidewalk and streets. About 100 of the 1,400 trees planted in 2011 did not survive the transplant process and will be replanted this spring, said Oshkosh City Forester Bill Sturm.

The wayfinding signs will have the same look as Oshkosh's existing historic district signage. They will be placed at the exits from U.S. 41 and at additional locations throughout the community.

The project got a boost this year when the state Department of Natural Resources awarded the Community Foundation a $24,700 Urban Forestry. It's the second DNR grant the Taking Root project has received.

"The fact that the Community Foundation was able to raise a half-million dollars for planting trees, that's unheard of," said Tracy Salisbury, Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator for the DNR. "The foundation has been a great partner in showing why trees are important."

The project has been funded almost entirely by private donors.

The Community Foundation and its Taking Root partners - which includes the city of Oshkosh and Ranger Services Inc. of Appleton - have earned acclaim with several awards, including recognition from the City of Oshkosh, the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council and Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association, and have been featured at urban forestry conventions in the state and internationally.

"Working with the partners as well as the public, there's been a lot of positive energy associated with (the Taking Root project). And in that sense, it's certainly been a success," Sturm said. "The time frame we've had to do this in has been short, but we've been efficient about how we've accomplished it. There obviously will be challenges to keeping those trees growing over the years to come."

To address that need, the Community Foundation is accepting donations to build the Taking Root Fund endowment. Donations can be sent to:
    Oshkosh Area Community Foundation
    230 Ohio St., Suite 100
    Oshkosh, WI 54902-5894
    Credit card donations can be made by phone at 920-426-3993
    or online by clicking here.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon. Through charitable giving, the Community Foundation strives to make our communities thrive. For more information, please call 920-426-3993.


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