The city of Chanhassen has celebrated Arbor Day since 1996.
While the city has offered free seedlings to residents for several years, its celebration of the holiday has evolved.
When the emerald ash borer (EAB) spread to St. Paul in 2009, Chanhassen began projects to add tree diversity to compensate for the future loss of ash trees, said Jill Sinclair, Chanhassen environmental resources specialist. (EAB was first discovered in Chanhassen in 2021.)
In 2010, the city began spearheading tree plantings in city parks. On Saturday, community members gathered at Curry Farms Park to plant 19 trees. They selected a wide variety of trees such as tamarack and catalpa.
In Chanhassen, the average tree canopy coverage is about 30%, according to Sinclair. In residential areas she hopes that percent will reach closer to 40%. In industrial areas and downtown, where there is more pavement, the percentage is around 15-20%, she said. According the Metropolitan Council, the ideal tree canopy coverage is 34-40%.
Going forward, Chanhassen hopes to establish a tree canopy goal, Sinclair said. The city’s best tool to accomplish that is by enforcing tree canopy coverage standards for new commercial and residential developments, she said.
Canopy coverage helps cities deal with climate change and offers more resilience when faced with hotter temperatures, more rain, stronger winds and more extreme weather, Sinclair said.
Trees provide clean air by absorbing carbon dioxide and pumping out oxygen, Sinclair noted.
“Many studies have found that trees are a benefit to communities. They increase property values,” Sinclair said. “They help make cities more resilient to climate change and different environmental factors of pollution, whether it’s air, land or water.”
A community with trees also makes people feel happy, Sinclair said. Being in a green environment boosts people’s mental and physical health. People want to be outside walking or exercising amongst the trees so it’s a full service benefit, she said.
There are methods to ensure tree health beyond Arbor Day. According to Sinclair, one of the ways residents can help regarding EAB is by managing their ash trees. They will either have to treat their trees to protect them against EAB, or plan to remove them.
Another way community members can get involved is by planting trees on their property to increase the canopy coverage. The city offers $50 rebates for up to two trees that residents can plant in their yard.
One of the most important things that people can do in their own yard is ensure they have a variety of tree species, Sinclair said.
Due to the dry summers Minnesota has been experiencing, Sinclair emphasized the importance of watering trees 30 years and younger. Large well-established trees can withstand dry weather and find moisture, however younger trees have lesser root systems. Supplemental watering is essential during dry periods, she said.
Sinclair recommends the Metropolitan Council’s new app called “Growing Shade,” which was designed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Tree Trust. It is a tree canopy enhancement and preservation tool.
According to Sinclair, people can use the app to look up their property and see their percentage of tree coverage. Users of the app can also see where they have planting opportunities and the benefits they get from their trees.
Another resource is the i-Tree website, which calculates in dollars the benefits that trees provide people. Benefits range from savings in energy costs to increases in property values.
To learn more about the tool Growing Shade, visit metrocouncil.org/Communities/Planning/Local-Planning-Assistance/Tree-Canopy.aspx. To learn more about i-Tree, visit itreetools.org.
For a history buff like Nick Schroeder, acting in a film about George Washington’s life is a dream come true.
The Chanhassen native plays Major Robert Stobo, one of Washington’s right-hand men in the film “Washington’s Armor: The Journey,” which came out this year.
“Washington’s Armor: The Journey” is the first of three films in a trilogy depicting the life of young George Washington. The film takes place 20 years before the Revolutionary War and is directed and produced by Tammy Lane.
Great effort went into keeping the film as historically accurate as possible. The film “is going to cater to history buffs more than anything,” Schroeder said. For people interested in seeing the movie, it will be playing this month at the Chanhassen Cinema at 570 Market Street.
The film follows Washington when he’s around 22 years old. It shows the struggles he faced, how he met his wife and many other aspects of his life that are lesser known.
“It shows everything that he went through to become the man that he became,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder, 36, and his family have deep roots in Chanhassen. His great-great-grandfather was the first mayor of the city. Ever since Schroeder was a child, he was drawn to movies. When he was around 9 years old he was already making his own. He enjoyed the process, but never thought that he’d do much with it. When he was 19 years old some doors opened up for him to pursue acting and modeling.
Schroeder moved to Los Angeles and lived there throughout his 20s. During his time there he worked in movies, television and theater. However, he admitted that the film industry is difficult and living in Los Angeles was very expensive.
When he eventually decided to move back to Chanhassen at the age of 29, he ran a construction real estate business and never thought he’d be involved in the film industry again.
During his time away from the industry, Schroeder missed the organized chaos and energy that filled a film set. It felt like he wasn’t doing what he was meant to be doing, Schroeder said. He continued to write as his creative outlet.
“If you’re a creative … it’s just something that’s always in you,” Schroeder said.
In 2020, another opportunity came around for Schroeder. “Washington’s Armor: The Journey” was one of the projects that he was offered. Now, he has several projects in the works, in roles varying from actor to producer to writer.
Schroeder had read for two roles in the film, a British soldier, which was a minor role, and Stobo. When he was cast as Stobo he was thrilled. Stobo’s life was full of adventures and he was an interesting man, he said, adding he had a lot of fun with the role.
“I’ve been very fortunate to kind of get back into the industry and be doing what I’m passionate about,” Schroeder said. “I really just had that desire to be back on set because … there’s nothing like it.”
From Schroeder’s experience working on the feature film, a big takeaway for him are the relationships he built along the way. With the cast of about five to six main actors, he has made “lifelong friendships out of it,” he said.