Each year, around the end of April, We Energies Regional Forester Paul Fliss gets really busy speaking for the trees. While many of us are spring cleaning and making plans for the summer, Fliss spends countless hours attending Arbor Day celebrations across southeastern Wisconsin.
“I just love to do it,” says Fliss.
After a few years of canceled or scaled-back events due to COVID-19, Fliss was back in full swing this year, attending events in Milwaukee, Port Washington, Waukesha and a few in between. Nearly each event featured grade school and high school students.
“The surest way to promote the environment is to have an environmentally sensitive group, like students, come on out and actually practice some of the conservation of the area,” Fliss explained to a local television station during one of his stops.
The first environmentally sensitive group to help Fliss were the conservation-minded students from Riverside University High School in Milwaukee. They spent a morning outside the classroom, along Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail, planting over 300 low-stature trees. As Fliss explained to them, it’s important to plant low-stature trees under power lines, because tall-stature trees can grow into power lines, causing unsafe conditions and interrupting the reliability of power.
Genesis DeJesus, a student from the school, said that she enjoyed the opportunity to plant trees. “It’s just become like a new hobby of mine as well, just like planting and just helping out as much as I can.”
A few days later, Fliss continued his Arbor Day celebration in the city of Port Washington. We Energies has worked with Port Washington to transform the city’s Coal Dock Park from industrial use into a community park. Fliss and fellow employees planted an English Oak Tree to continue the transformation of the area.
Fliss finished out his busy week at two events hosted by Girl Scouts in southeastern Wisconsin.
Girl Scout Junior Troop 31627 handed out almost 100 small trees to the graduating sixth grade class at Clarendon Avenue Elementary School in Mukwonago. Fliss shared the importance of planting trees, and Mukwonago’s Village President Fred Winchowky read an Arbor Day Proclamation. The troop then learned more about the trees planted at their school, how to care for them and keep them safe.
Fliss then moved on to the Girl Scouts of Southeast Wisconsin council event in Waukesha, where over 140 Girl Scouts earned their Tree Promise Patch. The patch requires the girls to learn about tree use and function, invasive species and plant and tree appreciation. Fliss shared with the Girls Scouts that they should always call 811 three days before they dig to avoid hitting underground utilities. He then planted several red maples with the troops. Each girl received a white pine tree to take home.
We Energies is grateful for Paul Fliss and all the members of the We Energies Forestry team for their commitment to a bright, sustainable future for the customers and communities they serve.