Celebrate Powell’s trees on Arbor Day

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The trees in our community have become an interesting topic of discussion of late, ranging from replacing trees along the canal on Coulter Avenue following last summer’s median removal to the impending demise of about 21 trees lining Absaroka Street as part of the street widening project. (Those living on Absaroka Street can find solace in that the trees removed will eventually be replaced.)

Now, with the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration scheduled for next week, the spotlight will once again shine on Powell’s trees. Festivities will kick off Thursday, April 26, as fifth graders from Parkside, Westside and Southside elementary schools are invited to The Commons for an afternoon of programs promoting education and community awareness about the importance of tree health care. The downtown event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m., with each student presented with their own tree seedling to plant and care for.

Another event on Friday, April 27, is open to the community, with residents invited to The Commons from noon to 3 p.m. for tree care and maintenance demonstrations. Free tree seedlings will also be available for residents to plant on their property: Cheyenne Amur Maple, Common Hackberry, Burenglish Oak, Siberian Spruce, Turkish Filbert, Siberian Peashrub, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Box Elder, Honeylocust, and Black Hills Ponderosa Pine. Powell Mayor John Wetzel will also be on hand to read a proclamation recognizing Arbor Day, while representatives from the Wyoming Department of Forestry will once again recognize Powell as a Tree City USA, designated as such by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Demonstrations will be provided by Blue Ribbon Tree Service, Garland Light & Power, Park County Weed and Pest, Park County Master Gardeners, Green Life Solutions, UW Extension and the Powell Parks Department.

The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska in April 1872, according to the Arbor Day Foundation website. Journalist and politician Julius Sterling Morton believed, according to an 1885 report in the Nebraska City News, that planting trees was “no more than a desire to pay a just debt” to our forefathers who had cultivated trees before us. An estimated 1 million trees were planted that first Arbor Day, and prizes offered to the busiest planters. It’s now celebrated yearly in over 35 countries around the globe.

Powell has a rich history of celebrating its trees, and the city is fortunate to have an active tree board and parks department dedicated to preserving that tradition. This year marks the 28th year Powell has been designated as a Tree City USA, an honor not bestowed on just any community. According to parks superintendent and city arborist Del Barton, a lot goes into the process, and Powell should take pride in the distinction.

The City of Powell’s roughly 1,700 public trees — and the folks who help care for them — were the subject of an assessment by an outside consultant in 2017. Made possible through a community forestry grant by Wyoming State Forestry, Mike Garvey, a registered consulting arborist from Billings, gave Powell high marks for its tree population.

“You have a wonderful tree board with a lot of smart people with diverse opinions and experience,” Garvey told the Powell City Council. “What you guys have done under the direction of your parks superintendent and city arborist has made great strides in promoting Powell and trees and getting the word out.”

So celebrate Arbor Day next week by paying a visit to The Commons. Add to Powell’s population of trees by planting one of your own. Show your pride at living in a Tree City USA by making it a family tradition, encouraging your kids to become better tree caretakers. Stop by the Powell Arboretum at Veteran’s Park, where you can find over 56 trees and shrubs of 28 different species.

Our trees create a better environment for us all. Take the time when you can to appreciate them.

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