Gahanna will play host to the beginning of a 580-mile bicycle adventure to raise money for tree research and education on Sunday, July 29, while Westerville will welcome cyclists back to central Ohio from Cleveland on Aug. 3.

The ride, called Bike the Buckeye State with Tour des Trees, benefits the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in the Chicago area.

Karen Lindell, TREE Fund community-engagement manager, said the nonprofit awards grants and scholarships in the area of arboriculture and urban forestry.

This year marks the 26th year of the Tour des Trees tours that change locations annually.

"We choose our locations based on support from the local tree community, particularly support from local chapters of the International Society of Arboriculture," Lindell said. "ISA has its international conference taking place in Columbus this year, and the Ohio chapter wanted to host both events."

Rob Wendling, forester for the city of Gahanna, said it would play host to the first water break of the ride on July 29, with cyclists expected to start arriving between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

"We will have a short ceremony at about 8:45 a.m. and off they go heading north," he said.

Lindell said the cyclists are stopping in at Creekside Plaza, 151 Mill St. in Gahanna, for a quick "welcome to Ohio" and are donating the book "I Can Name 50 Trees Today" to the Gahanna branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, courtesy of the Davey Tree Expert Co.

"Through our sponsorship of the Tour des Trees, Davey honors our Ohio roots and our founder's passion for trees." said Sandra Reid, vice president, corporate communications and strategic planning administration for the Davey Tree Expert Co., in a press release. "We continue Mr. Davey's commitment to the care, education and promotion of scientific research of trees."

Davey Tree is headquartered in Kent.

The tour will include about 75 riders who will start in Columbus, travel to Cleveland and back. The route map is available at

Lindell said Westerville is a stop when the group returns to the Columbus area Aug. 3.

"We choose our stops based on the need to have a food-and-bathroom break every 20-35 miles or so along the route and by the local tree community (city arborist, etc.) wanting to welcome us and host the stop," she said. "In contrast to other charity bike rides, we seek to engage with the local community when we stop."

In Westerville, she said, a children's education program about trees will be held at the Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St., at 10:30 a.m. featuring Professor Elwood Pricklethorn, followed by a 11:45 a.m. lunch stop at the Everal Barn and Homestead, 60 N. Cleveland Ave., where a new cherry tree will be dedicated.

Another central Ohio stop will be at Thompson Park, 4250 Woodbridge Road, in Upper Arlington at 1 p.m. Aug. 3 with a Professor Pricklethorn program.

Lindell said a tulip poplar Liberty Tree will be dedicated at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 4 at the Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, provided through the Providence Forum's Liberty Tree Project, courtesy of Ohio Chapter International Society of Arboriculture and the TREE Fund.

"The Liberty Tree Program provides a living connection to the nation's colonial history in a tangible way that educates and benefits host communities now and for generations to come," said J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund president, in a press release. "All of us at TREE Fund are honored to partner with The Providence Forum to establish one of these venerable trees in Ohio's capital city as part of our mission to support community involvement and engagement with protecting and enhancing the urban canopy.

"We're grateful to the stewards of the Ohio Statehouse and the many dedicated public servants who work there for the opportunity to offer this meaningful remembrance as we pass through Columbus on this year's tour," Smith said.

The Tour des Trees is the primary community outreach and engagement event for the TREE Fund, a charity devoted to sustaining the world's urban trees through research and education.

Full-tour cyclists raise at least $3,500 for the TREE Fund, then cycle more than 500 miles in a week while planting trees, educating children and promoting the mission of the TREE Fund at stops along the way.

With funds raised through the tour, TREE Fund researchers have discovered better ways to propagate, plant and care for urban trees, making them more resilient, more resistant to pests and less prone to failure.

The tour has enabled the TREE Fund to finance research and education grants totaling more than $3 million since 2002.

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