Laurel ‘Planting a Future’ for Arbor Day

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY 
Outlook managing editor
Laurel Tree Board member and employee of River Ridge Landscaping Aaron Christianson hopes this year’s Arbor Day celebration will educate students and residents about the importance of caring for trees and the environment.
Laurel Tree Board member and employee of River Ridge Landscaping Aaron Christianson hopes this year’s Arbor Day celebration will educate students and residents about the importance of caring for trees and the environment.

Arbor Day commemorates Laurel’s 11th year as an official Tree City, USA, so this year the city is really making a day out of it. In conjunction with fourth-grade students from Graff Elementary, the American Legion Post #123, the Laurel Tree Board and a number of sponsors, there will be a public ceremonial tree planting at Murray Park at 12:30 p.m. on May 2. The real work—educating kids on the value of trees and the natural world—will take place beginning at 9 a.m. when the students and their teachers will arrive at the park on the 500 block of 13th Ave.
The children will rotate through stations set up in the park by arboriculture professionals, said LuAnne Engh, a member of the Tree Board. Those pros include folks from the Montana Audubon Center, Riverstone Health, Bright and Beautiful, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The fourth-graders will get lessons on bees, tree care, recycling, birds, weather, insects and more. Afterwards, lunch will be served to the students with the public presentation beginning at 12:30 p.m.
The program is scheduled to last less than a half hour and will begin with a color guard led by Richard Klose of the American Legion. Mayor Mark Mace and Rep. Vince Ricci will address the assemblage and DNRC will present the Tree City, USA award.
“I’m proud of our city staff and the Tree Board working in conjunction with the school district to develop an event that teaches our youth more about the stewardship of our parks and trees,” said Mayor Mace. “Murray park is a perfect place to show the students how the trees are placed to facilitate the soccer field.”
It takes stewardship to earn the Tree City award. There are four core standards of sound urban forestry management that must be met for eligibility: maintaining a tree board, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
“I hope Laurel will incorporate an educational component to the Arbor Day celebration every year,” said tree board member Aaron Christianson. “It helps students have pride in their community and take ownership of public park lands.”
After the city is recognized for its efforts as a Tree City, USA, several of the students will assist with the planting of two Skyline Locust trees, a cotton-less Cottonwood and an Autumn Blaze Maple.

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