The community enrichment grant will be used to purchase trees, rent equipment and expand Arbor Day programs, which will help raise community awareness, educate homeowners about tree coverage and promote energy conservation.
“This past Arbor Day, our park maintenance crew put together a plan to not only increase trees in city parks, but to get folks to put more trees in their yards and increase the tree canopy elsewhere,” Mike Hemker said, Hutto’s director of Parks and Recreation Department. “We sold trees, and folks bought them.”
The last estimate provided by the Texas Forestry Service reported Hutto’s canopy level was only at 5 percent. As a result, the city set a goal to reach a canopy level of 22 percent by 2020.
The effort is designed to change the city’s landscape from a farming community atmosphere to one that reflect its growth into urbanized neighborhoods.
“As communities develop, our unified development code outlines what new residential homes should have, from a tree standpoint, and what they (developers) should put in for landscaping to help make the neighborhoods look nicer,” Hemker said.
He said Hutto’s beautification plan is also successful due to the work of Lavern Gaines, who is a member of the Keep Hutto Beautiful Commission.
Parks & Recreation Director Mike Hemker, Lavern Gaines of the Keep Hutto Beautiful Foundation and City Manager Karen Daly hold a $10,000 check awarded to Hutto from Union Pacific.[/caption]
“She was pretty instrumental when the grant was written,” Hemker said. “When you’ve got community members that care like that, we want to make sure they’re involved.”
The award came from the Union Pacific Community-Based Grant Program, which is a foundation that supports organizations, public charities and municipalities located close to, and served by, Union Pacific railroad lines.