Tour de Trees: A Bike Ride with a Nature Lesson

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  On long bike rides or walks, people love the cool shade trees provide but they often forget to stop and learn about the trees around them. Well, you can do that this weekend with a free event.

The Tour de Trees is a free 8-mile bike ride on Saturday beginning at 1 P.M. with four stops along the way to learn about Iowa’s urban trees and it all starts and ends at Peace Tree Brewing Company.

Many people don’t realize just how important trees are to our ecosystem and infrastructure as a city. The city of Des Moines says there are around 50,000 trees accounted for but probably around 150 to 200,000 trees throughout Des Moines. They say every year, trees saved 60 million gallons of water from running into the city’s systems, the lakes, the river and the streets. With such massive flooding this summer, this makes it hard to imagine what the city of Des Moines would have looked like without trees.

“So all those trees, the leaves, the branches, the bark, they're intercepting the rain water before it gets to the street into the waste water systems, so you can try to imagine a city without any trees and the recent huge rain events would have been a lot more catastrophic than they already were,” Urban Forestry Project Manager Shane McQuillan said.

The city is trying to increase the number of trees, any resident in Des Moines can get a free tree planted in their right of way, the space between their sidewalk and road. They say trees in your yard can increase your property value anywhere from 10 to 20 percent.

“The shading, the heating and cooling of your house, it can protect your driveway. The different natural habitat it can provide for different animals and birds and things like that around the place,” McQuillan said.

If you have questions about the trees near your house or even around the trails you walk you can go onto the city of Des Moines Public Works website under the Forestry tab to find a map of every accounted tree and its type.