Lansing – Rich in Trees
Trees have been valued in Lansing since the days of it incorporation as a community. Lansing's second mayor John Kerr (1825 – 1868) proudly claimed the title "Founder of City's Tree Planting Program." In 1878 the City Council passed Ordinance No. 32 which provided for the planting and protection of shade and ornamental trees in Lansing. It was around this time that a catalpa tree was planted on Capitol Avenue in front of the Michigan State Capital building. This tree, which is still alive today, would later grow to become so large that it was declared the national champion catalpa.
Trees were so highly prized in Lansing that H. Lee Bancroft who was the first Superintendent of Parks and whom Bancroft Park was named after also held the title of City Forester. Superintendent Bancroft was the founding president of the Michigan Shade Tree Commission and served the International Shade Tree Commission. Many other city foresters also went on to become the head of the Parks and Recreation Department. Those individuals included Carl Fenner and Theodore J. Haskell.
Under their leadership the Lansing Forestry Program went on to become a national model for urban tree management. During their tenure Birt Darling wrote "City in the Forest: The Story of Lansing" and so Lansing was dubbed "The City in the Forest." Subsequent City Foresters have become prominent in the field and served as industry leaders in the Society of Municipal Arborist, the Michigan Forestry and Parks Association and the Michigan Urban and Community Forestry Council.
Today we continue Lansing's proud forestry tradition by serving our residents with a full service arboricultural program.