One year ago, shortly before Earth Day 2021, lost a local champion for nature and a guardian of Wyoming’s urban forest—Jeanne Bradford “Brad” Bonham.

Bonham was an important volunteer who worked in affiliation with ’s Urban Forestry & Beautification Commission, and she played an instrumental role in the city’s efforts to combat the Emerald Ash Borer infestation in 2007. Bonham passed away in March 2021. As the city commemorates Earth Day 2022, her contributions are an important reminder of the impact one individual can make in the work toward sustainability.

“Her passion for plants, especially trees, was immediately evident,” says Mike Lippert, Director of Water Works and a city staff representative with the Urban Forestry & Beautification Commission. “This became more apparent when the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered. This is when I found she was also scientifically inclined, as she perused countless research studies trying to find solutions to EAB issues.”

For those who don’t recall the threat surrounding the Emerald Ash Borer, it is an invasive species of Asian beetle discovered in Ohio in 2003. Left unchecked, the beetles drill into the bark of ash and eventually rob them of the ability to absorb water. The tree usually dies in three to five years. The beetle was considered a significant risk to the forests of Ohio and an all-out effort to contain the pest was pushed in the early 2000s.

Bonham single-handedly tackled much of the work of researching and investigating issues surrounding the EAB for Wyoming. She also mapped the city’s ash to help track infestations and management strategies. In addition, she conducted public information sessions to educate residents about the potential threat.

“During this time, she became so involved in the tree industry and related issues, she obtained her International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) arborist certification,” says Lippert. “Through her, I met many tree-care professionals and became better versed in tree care and maintenance.”

Bonham went on to help the city improve its tree selection process to increase diversity, and she became a key player in developing a tree management plan for and in-writing policy regarding green acres in the city.

She also led “tree walks” for residents, eagerly sharing her knowledge with others while guiding them through various neighborhoods to learn more about ’s valuable urban forest.

“Brad helped effect positive change to the city’s tree management,” adds Lippert. “ lost a valuable volunteer with her passing. I miss our conversations about Wyoming and its trees.

“Her work will live on, however, and impact generations of future residents as the trees and green spaces she helped improve continue to grow and mature.”