Salem marks Arbor, Earth days with tree planting

Salem Parks & Recreation Department officials, employees and Mayor John Berlin celebrate Salem’s designation as a Tree City USA for the 36th year in front of a newly-planted Tulip tree at Centennial Park on Monday, which was Earth Day. From left are Parks Foreman Jim Grimm, full-time maintenance worker Dave Adams, Parks Commission Chairman John Panezott, Mayor John Berlin handing an Arbor Day proclamation to Parks Commission member Lucille Karnofel, full-time maintenance worker Josh Faulkner and Parks Director Shane Franks. The flag is from last year since the new flag hasn’t been received yet. Berlin and Franks will be attending the annual Tree City USA awards banquet today at Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek Metroparks in Youngstown. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)

SALEM — Salem Parks & Recreation personnel and Mayor John Berlin celebrated Arbor Day and Earth Day together on Monday afternoon by gathering in front of a newly-planted Tulip tree at Centennial Park and recognizing the city’s 36th year as a designated Tree City USA.

This morning, Berlin and Parks Director Shane Franks plan to travel to Youngstown for the annual Tree City awards banquet for area communities, being held at Fellows Riverside Gardens in the Mill Creek Metroparks. The awards banquet is held in a different community each year.

For Salem, it’s the 36th consecutive year to be tagged by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA in recognition of efforts to continue planting trees. The city’s former Shade Tree Commisson is no longer active, but Berlin said the parks department has kept up the tradition and continually planted trees in the parks.

“We’ve lost close to 25 trees throughout the parks system,” Franks said. “When we lose a tree, we try to replace it.”

Some Ash trees were taken down due to disease and decay and some trees were lost to storms.

So far, he said at least 20 trees have been planted, many of them Norway Spruce, with more trees of different varieties being planted, such as the Tulip tree near the Pershing Street entrance to Centennial Park. Where a tree is lost, he said the maintenance crew tries to plant another tree close by.

“I think Salem should be proud that we’ve been recognized as a Tree City,” Franks said.

Berlin issued a proclamation to proclaim Monday as Arbor Day in Salem, saying “I urge all citizens to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands and to support our city’s urban forestry program, and further, I urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the well-being of present and future generations.”

He said he would encourage everyone to plant trees in their yards –it’s good for the environment.

According to the proclamation, in 1872 J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees. That’s when the holiday known as Arbor Day came about and was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska. Now it’s observed all over the nation and the world.

“Trees can reduce the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife,” the proclamation said. “Trees are a renewable resource giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and countless other wood products; Trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas, and beautify our community.”

National Arbor Day is actually Friday. Monday was Earth Day. To learn more visit arborday.org.

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