'Tour des Trees' Sprouts Wood in the Economy

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Kristin Wild, a communications specialist for Asplundh Tree Expert Company became involved in helping promote the Stihl Tour des Trees in 2000, she had no idea that just three years later, she would also ride the trail with experienced cyclists.

"If anyone had told me 14 years ago that I could pedal over 100 miles per day and still help with our educational events, I wouldn't have believed them," says Wild, now 54 years old.

Wild is just one of 98 riders who will be heading out from Niagara Falls, N.Y. this Saturday, July 27, on a weeklong, 585-mile ride that will end in Toronto, Ontario at the International Society of Arboriculture conference.

The 21-year-old ride was created by the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund) to unite cyclists and arborists to raise money for urban tree research and to bring awareness to the plight of urban trees.

The TREE Fund's literature says that most urban trees only have an average lifespan of about ten years, but the benefits of having trees in our environment is also a necessity for our survival. Trees provide oxygen, clean the air, assist in storm water runoff, shade our homes and provide beauty, which provides a mental health benefit.

Trees also may provide an economic benefit to homeowners. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, having mature trees on your property may increase your home value up to 10% and having trees shading your home may reduce your summer utility bills by up to 3%.

Janet Bornancin, president and CEO of the TREE Fund, says raising money for research is important so that companies working with urban tree care have the tools necessary to preserve urban trees. "Trees are really taken for granted in urban areas," says Bornancin. "They're assaulted by pavement and need science based research in order to survive."