Mayor Chris Beutler today said the City's new 2 for Trees donation program has been very successful in its first year, raising nearly $110,000 to help plant and maintain public trees. He also announced the new projects to be funded this year through the Lincoln Cares donation program.
2 For Trees allows customers of the Lincoln Water System (LWS) to add $2 to their bill payments to support trees along streets and trails, in parks and on golf courses. Lincoln Cares, which allows LES customers to add $1 to their monthly bill payments, was expanded last year to include Lincoln City Libraries and Aging Partners, in addition to Parks and Recreation projects.
"The new 2 for Trees program has been received very positively by the community," Mayor Beutler said. "From the time of its launch in March of 2012 through January 2013, water customers have voluntarily donated $64,752 to this effort to replace public trees in our community. An additional $45,000 was provided by a matching grant from the Kenneth J. Good Environmental Enhancement Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation."
Donations to the 2 For Trees program provided for 180 street trees along "A" Street, Holdrege Street and Capital Parkway; trees planted in Kahoa Park in celebration of Arbor Day; and about 60 trees planted by community volunteers in Densmore Park. The program helped beautify the newly completed Union Plaza, with new trees at the Children's Discovery Garden and the 21st Street Plaza. Donations also funded equipment and materials for tree establishment and watering.
Lincoln has more than 125,000 public trees including 87,000 that line 1,217 miles of streets. The 2 For Trees program was designed to provide extra funding support to replace public trees lost to disease, decline or damage. The 2 for Trees program supports, but does not replace, the City's popular street tree voucher program that is available for residential areas.
In addition to donations, 2 for Trees received in-kind donations of materials from private nurseries including Finke Gardens and Nursery; Campbell's Nurseries & Garden Centers; Earl May Nursery and Garden Centers (north and south); Heritage Nursery West; Nebraska Nursery and Color Gardens; Lanoha Nurseries; and Eagle Nursery.
"2 For Trees helps provide the regular, ongoing funding that is needed to maintain a multi-generational urban forest in our public spaces," said Lynn Johnson, Director of Lincoln Parks and Recreation. "We are very grateful for the widespread support from the community for this program, which shows that Lincolnites really care about their trees."
Mayor Beutler also announced the projects and partners for the 2013 Lincoln Cares program. From its inception in February 2003 through January 2013, Lincoln Cares has collected $654,510 from LES customers. Nearly 4,000 LES customers donated to the program each month in 2012. Another $531,562 has been contributed through direct donations to the Lincoln Parks Foundation and through community partnerships with local foundations, businesses and neighborhood associations. The total for all collections since Lincoln Cares began is $1,186,072.
The Mayor made the announcements at Eiseley Library, the site of one of the 2013 Lincoln Cares projects.
"Lincoln Cares makes a difference for Lincoln families," said Pat Leach, Director of Lincoln City Libraries. "It supports our Leading to Reading spaces which enhance the offerings of the library.
As families are choosing books and other items to check out, children are engaged in the kind of play that leads to learning and school success. These are spaces that welcome all families in Lincoln, without charge. We at Lincoln City Libraries are delighted to be part of Lincoln Cares and salute the generosity of the community."
"This year, contributions to Lincoln Cares will help purchase additional fitness equipment for our Aging Strong fitness program," said June Pederson, Director of Aging Partners. "Statistics show that people who engage in moderate but consistent exercise experience fewer falls, are happier and live independently longer. Thanks to LES customers who support Lincoln Cares, we can all work to improve our fitness through Aging Strong."
Mayor Beutler also thanked all five Lincoln media organizations, which for the fourth consecutive year are providing $30,000 of in-kind advertising and promotion for the two programs. Media sponsors are: KOLN/KGIN- TV; KLKN-TV; Three Eagles Communications; Broadcast House; and the Lincoln Journal Star. A sixth radio station, The Ticket, is a new media sponsor.
"The 2 for Trees and Lincoln Cares programs are wonderful examples of how public-private partnerships make Lincoln strong," Beutler said. "Proceeds from these two programs will benefit all parts of our community. I want to thank our project sponsors and media sponsors for making these programs even more successful, and giving everyone in Lincoln two terrific opportunities to support our community."
To donate to Lincoln Cares, LES customers can add one dollar to their bill payments each month. Those who pay LES through automatic bank billing can add Lincoln Cares to their payments each month by calling LES at 402-475-4211. Donations also can be mailed directly to the Lincoln Parks Foundation, 2740 "A" Street, Box 201, Lincoln, NE 68502 or made online at LincolnCares.org.
To donate to 2 For Trees, LWS customers can add $2 to their bi-monthly Lincoln Water System bill; mail their donation to 2 for Trees, 2740 "A" Street, Lincoln, NE 68502; or make an online donation at 2forTrees.org