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Bikers pedal for urban forestry

August 03, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Bikers pedal for urban forestry



MONT ALTO, Pa. - An Ingram oak, a rather short, squat hybrid with branches that grow out more than up was propagated 16 years ago in Cape Cod, Mass., by a Penn State Mont Alto alumnus.

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One of only three existing Ingram oaks was planted on the campus Thursday as a symbol of the importance of planting trees in urban settings.

More than 60 bike riders of the 2000 edition of the annual Tour des Trees joined the tree dedication ceremony. The tree was planted in front of the newly renovated, 146-year-old Emmanuel Chapel.

Tour des Trees began in 1992. Since then its riders have raised more than $1 million for the International Society of Arboriculture Research Trust in Champaign, Ill. The nonprofit trust is dedicated to the study, promotion and preservation of trees, especially in cities and towns, said Trust spokeswoman Kristin Wild.

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Last year the tour rode through New England.

This year's 600-bike mile ride follows a zig-zag route that began in Williamsburg, Va., July 30 and ends Sunday in Baltimore. The riders planted a tree at the Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Wednesday and another later Thursday in Gettysburg, Pa.

The Ingram Oak is named for Jim Ingram. He graduated from Mont Alto with an associate's degree in 1979 and finished his education at Penn State's Main Campus in 1983. In between he returned to teach forestry at Mont Alto. He was teaching there when he accepted a job with Bartlett Tree Service.

Ingram created his oak hybrid in 1984 by crossing a 60-year-old swamp white oak with a 30-year-old English oak at the Cape Cod Arboretum which he helped to found in 1983.

The English oak came to America in the days of sailing vessels. Its acorns were used to pack fragile items in the crates coming from Europe, much like Styrofoam peanuts do today. The acorns were usually thrown away when the crates were unpacked. The sandy Cape Cod soil was a perfect seedbed and the trees began to propagate.

Ingram said three of his trees survived. They lived through two hurricanes and a number of harsh, salt-laden New England coastal storms in Cape Cod. He won the coveted Superior Commendation Certificate for his trees by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, its first such award in 30 years.

Two of Ingram's trees are growing in Massachusetts. The one at Mont Alto was planted for the fifth time Thursday and will, said David Goldenberg, campus chief executive officer, "be here forever."

The Mont Alto campus was the site of Pennsylvania's first forestry school. The curriculum is still taught today. Graduates earn a two-year associates degree. Most continue their education at Penn State's Main Campus.

"The oak will hopefully serve to remind students, foresters and arborists that trees grace the earth with their beauty," Ingram said. "It will serve to exemplify the mission of the International Society Arboriculture Research Trust and for all benefits derived from scientific investigation."

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