Energizing Your Future

STIHL Tour des Trees, Day 1 – July 27: Milwaukee to Madison

“Hi, I’m Ben Gura, vegetation management specialist at ATC. I’ve worked in utility vegetation management for over 15 years and have made a career of keeping trees out of utility rights-of-way to maintain safe and reliable electricity to help ‘keep the lights on.’ When I found out the STIHL Tour des Trees was returning to Milwaukee this summer I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to give something back to the trees.

The STIHL Tour des Trees is a week-long, 583-mile bicycle ride. The Tour is also America’s largest fundraiser for tree research, which benefits The TREE Fund. Since 1992, The TREE Fund has raised over $6.6 million dollars for tree research and educational programs. Some of the money raised also goes to grants that help sustain urban forests, which is part of my role at ATC. In Wisconsin, forests are under attack from a variety of pests including the Emerald Ash Borer. The TREE Fund provides grants that are helping protect Wisconsin ash trees and by identifying new varieties of ash trees that may be EAB resistant.

During the Tour, we will dedicate trees to communities, provide books about trees to local libraries, and present educational events to children about the importance and care of trees. The Tour spreads the word about how trees are an important part of the urban landscape and a necessary part of the ecosystem. The Tour benefits people, trees and the environment. Recognizing that these traits align with ATC’s Tree Line USA award and ATC’s environmental stewardship, ATC is sponsoring the 2014 STIHL Tour des Trees lunch stop in New London on July 30. This should be a great event that will include presentations from the Tour’s “Professor Elwood Pricklethorn” and nationally renowned horticulturist, author and radio/TV host, Melinda Myers.

Going all in on a seven-day 583-mile bike ride isn’t something that one takes lightly. Besides having to spend a lot of time on a bicycle training for the event, each rider is required to raise $3,500 for The TREE Fund. It’s a commitment that I’m happy to take on for the trees. Please help me reach my goal by donating below.

The Tour’s first day from Milwaukee to Madison was tough because we had a 25 mph headwind and got caught in two downpours. Monday’s weather looks better though! Thanks for reading and be sure to check back in the coming days for more updates and photos as I pedal through Wisconsin – all for the benefit of trees.”