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According to SEMCOG (The Southeast Michigan Council Of Governments), large parts of Macomb County are a lot less green that they used to be. That’s due to, according to the organization, decades of loss from Dutch Elm Disease, the devastation created by the emerald ash borer, and efforts to improve in-ground infrastructure and roadways.

Trees have a lot of benefits. They include reducing water runoff from storms, absorbing carbon dioxide, as well as being a natural air conditioner and sound buffer.

Many areas of southern Macomb County – basically, south of the Clinton River – have almost no tree cover whatsoever, as identified by the red in the map below. The orange isn’t much better.

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So we headed out to Warren and saw the kickoff event of Green Macomb, an initiative that’s trying to address this problem, starting with some landscape upgrades to the bus stops located on 12 Mile near Macomb Community College and the Wayne State Advance Technology Center in Warren.

The Green Macomb initiative was set into motion just over two years ago in response to the findings.

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The county partnered with Six Rivers Land Conservancy and ReLeaf Michigan to plant 246 plants, shrubs and trees.

The plants were chosen because they can stand up to the wind, snow and salt that is used on the roads in the winter.

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The county is hoping that the program will help create more green infrastructure south of the Clinton River.

“This is the beginning of an effort to increase trees in communities along and south of the Clinton River,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “These plants are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also help make these bus stops more user friendly.”

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According to SEMCOG data, populated communities in Macomb County like Warren, Roseville, Utica, Saint Clair Shores, Eastpointe, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Harrison Township, and Mount Clemens are lacking tree coverage and green infrastructure.

Macomb County received a grant for $25,000 to help create more green space. They will be receiving money from the Federal Government to help continue this program in the next few months.

By creating the Green Macomb initiative they hope that it will strengthen the economic vitality, quality of life, and environmental well-being of Macomb County.

“This has an immense amount of impact on our community. The other thing that we’re thrilled about is that there are additional dollars coming down from Federal sources,” said Director of Planning and Economic Development John Paul Rea that will not only empower us to plant more trees in our communities but will allow us to inject more creativity in this conversation.”