Lafayette recognized for its efforts to plant and maintain an urban forest.


Ask Tim Detzner what he loves about trees, and you can hear the smile in his voice. 

“So many things,” says Detzner, who retired as urban forester for the City of Lafayette in January. “I love watching them grow and seeing the different changes that take place. I love all the amazing services they provide for us. They clean carbon dioxide out of the air, provide oxygen for us to breathe, provide shade to lower temperatures, help reduce stormwater runoff and they add beauty to our surroundings. 

“There are so many things to love about trees.” 

Detzner worked at Purdue University for 34 years as lead arborist before taking the job as a city forester in 2017. He describes the role as a one-person position where the responsibilities largely include oversight and coordination of the planting and maintenance of street trees throughout the city. 

“A city forester has to consider the urban conditions that affect species selection,” Detzner says. “There’s an awful lot of concrete around these trees, so you want to plan trees that will handle the city environment better than others, such as narrow trees that can grow and thrive without interfering with the buildings and sidewalks around them.” 

The city frequently collaborates with Tree Lafayette, a nonprofit organization that has planted trees around the city since its founding in 1993. 

“Tree Lafayette has planted more than 4,000 trees over the past three decades,” says Larry Rose, tree committee chair for Tree Lafayette. “We only have one planet to live on and we’d better take care of it. Trees help slow down climate change, produce much of the rain and clean the air. We encourage an urban forest for so many reasons.” 

One of the city’s largest tree planting projects took place in 2022 when scores of volunteers helped plant 150 trees in honor of the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. The trees were planted along Underwood Street in north Lafayette. The first 66 trees were planted in the spring and the remaining 84 were planted in the fall. In recognition of the community’s efforts, the International Society of Arboriculture recognized Lafayette with the Harry J. Banker Gold Leaf Award for outstanding Arbor Day activities.   

Lafayette has achieved Tree City USA recognition for 30 straight years by meeting the program’s four requirements: forming a tree board or department; creating a tree-care ordinance; designating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita; and observing Arbor Day with a city proclamation.

In 2022, Lafayette was one of only 138 cities across the globe to earn the designation of Tree Cities of the World. To be recognized, a city must meet core standards that illustrate a commitment to caring for its trees and urban forest on a higher level.  

“Lafayette is very proud to receive these tree designation awards after many months and years of work by so many individuals and groups,” stated Mayor Tony Roswarski in an April 2022 press release. “Through our work with the City’s Urban Forester and other city departments, I’m excited to announce that we have a goal to plant over 1,000 trees in Lafayette over the next five years that will play an integral part in the work of the Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan. We have a responsibility to combat climate change and I want to thank our partners of Tree Lafayette, SIA, Duke Energy, Center Pointe Energy, Tipmont REMC and the Lafayette Tree Advisory Committee for all their support over the years in making a difference in our community’s environmental footprint. By working together, we can make Lafayette greener.”

The work to plant more trees throughout the city will continue, but it will continue without Detzner. 

After 45 years of tree care in Tippecanoe County, Detzner moved to South Carolina earlier this year to enjoy his retirement.  ★