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Monday, June 22, 2015

Barb Manyet, Caretaker of Trees

Barb Manyet, Fort Thomas Tree Commission volunteer

Barb Manyet enjoys walking around Fort Thomas, checking up on her trees—many of which she helped plant.

While her passion for trees is relatively new (she joined the Fort Thomas Tree Commission 10 years ago) caretaking has long been part of her life (in the 50 years she's lived in Fort Thomas she spent considerable time working for Fort Thomas Independent Schools in various roles, raised four children and is now grandmother to nine).

Manyet is one of seven volunteers and two city employees who care for our city's trees. "The tree commission is a wonderful group of volunteers who give out information to our community about planting, saving and protecting our trees in the city's right of way and city parks, and about the value of trees on our property." 

Manyet says Fort Thomas has a proud history of urban forestry. "In the 1980s citizens of Fort Thomas started noticing that through development trees were being destroyed," Manyet says. "At this time there were no restrictions. Citizens investigated how other cities were handling the problem. They drew the first tree ordinance and hence a tree commission was formed in the year 1990." 

The Tree Commission meets the second Tuesday of every month. At meetings members approve or deny the plantings and removals of trees. In addition to planting on public property, the Tree Commission also helps residents plant trees on private property through its cost-sharing "Plant a Tree" program. Residents simply fill out an application and, upon approval, pay $150 to the City of Fort Thomas. Approval of the application is based on degree of urban forestation in the area, adequate front-yard planting space, suitable tree species desired, and non-interference with overhead and underground utilities. If approved, the Tree Commission pays the remainder of the cost for the tree and its installation over the $150.

Manyet's role with the tree commission is to provide a monthly report to the Fort Thomas Garden Club. "I attend the commission meeting and report back to the Garden Club what took place at the meeting," Manyet says. "I also pass out 'Plant a Tree' application whenever the opportunity is available. We have planted seven trees in my neighbors' yards." 

Manyet regularly visits "Plant a Tree" applicants' private properties to help survey the yards, and she often checks up on trees already planted—tending them, as any good caretaker would. She also attends and helps with the annual Arbor Day celebration. "Last year, in April, we had a big Arbor Day celebration along with the Fort Thomas Forest Conservancy," Manyet says. "It was held in Rossford Park. A swamp white oak tree was planted, speeches were made, and information was given out. The Conservancy cleared a hillside and planted many saplings." 

Talk about saplings reminds Manyet of the redbud sapling her then-4th-grade daughter brought home after an Arbor Day celebration at Woodfill Elementary. Because of that one sapling, today Manyet has 20 redbuds in her yard. She cares for those, too.

"It is a great privilege to serve on the Tree Commission and the Garden Club," Manyet says. "I do not want the recognition for myself. But I do it to get the information out about what a great service the Tree Commission is to our city, what a great, safe city we live in, and how so very important trees are to our communities and to our lives. It is a labor of love and I am so very grateful to be involved." 

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