Sixty-five cyclists from across North America took to Virginia's scenic byways last week for the 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees to benefit the TREE Fund, America's largest fundraiser for tree research. This year's Tour has already raised more than $460,000 for the Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund, and the event's legacy includes 45 new trees in Virginia and Washington, D.C., planted during the Tour's outreach and education programs.
The weeklong cycling event kicked off at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Va., on Oct. 2. The cyclists continued on to Williamsburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Front Royal, and Reston, finishing their journey in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8 with a finale concert celebration at American University with Rolling Stones keyboardist and conservationist Chuck Leavell. Highlights of the 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees included tree plantings in Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and the state Capitol grounds in Richmond and 65 miles of spectacular cycling along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Tour also stopped at Columbia Elementary School in Palmyra, where the entire school turned out to help plant a new tree and learn about how trees grow from the Tour's youth education specialist, "Professor Elwood Pricklethorn" (aka Warren Hoselton, veteran Tour rider and arborist from Toronto, Canada.)
"I am continually inspired by the dedication of the cyclists of the STIHL Tour des Trees," said Janet Bornancin, executive director of the TREE Fund. "We're fortunate to have a corps of cyclists who return to ride the Tour each year, and this year we welcomed 19 first-time riders to our ranks. They conquered some incredible hills this week, and raised a record-breaking amount of money for tree research despite a difficult economy. The STIHL Tour des Trees is the lifeblood of the TREE Fund, and the money raised each year funds the research that sustains our urban forests."
Donations can still be made to the TREE Fund through the STIHL Tour des Trees website, www.stihltourdestrees.org, and photos from each of the events are available on the media page.
Since the Tour began in 1992, more than 970 riders have helped generate more than $5 million for tree research and education programs which have helped fund a host of different projects that have addressed disease and pest management, urban planting challenges, tree biomechanics and workforce safety.
"The TREE Fund supports research that is vital to trees and those who care for them," said Anita Gambill of STIHL Inc., a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment which has sponsored the Tour for 11 years. "We are pleased to work with these tree care professionals and give back to our community by supporting the research that helps ensure healthy trees for future generations."
Sponsors of the 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees included STIHL Inc.; Bartlett Tree Experts; Asplundh Tree Experts; Dominion; KASK Helmets; The Davey Tree Expert Company; Arizona Public Service; Mid-Atlantic STIHL; National Grid; PG&E; PacifiCorp; Arborwell; Casey Trees; Ford Motor Co.; Lewis Tree Service; the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA); NGK Spark Plugs; West Coast Arborists Inc.; Lebanon Turf; Tech Tree Experts Inc.; Trees, Inc.; Valley Crest; Vermeer; Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center; and Wright Tree Service.