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Tour de Trees makes stop in Chambersburg

August 06, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The third leg of the Tour de Trees rolled into Chambersburg Wednesday afternoon where riders paused on their 425-mile journey to help plant a chinquapin oak in Memorial Park.

Unlike a more famous bicycling event in France, there is no yellow jersey for each day's leader. Mostly, the approximately 50 riders for the Tree Research & Education Endowment Fund wore green.

"We're riding for research. Every rider raises $3,500" to take part in the event, said Phil Baker of Richmond, Va., who was participating in his sixth ride. The ride promotes the care and preservation of urban trees, he said.

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The ride began Monday in Philadelphia and will end Saturday when they reach Pittsburgh, site of the International Society of Arboriculture annual conference, according to Karl Parker of Cobb, Calif., who has participated in 12 of the 13 Tour de Trees as either a rider or coordinator. The event is held in a different place each year based on the site of the arboriculture conference, he said.

"They need air, they need water, they need nutrients," according to Parker, who said the biggest challenge to healthy trees in urban settings is soil compaction. The roots of trees can have difficulty absorbing the nutrients they require because the air and water cannot penetrate soils packed down by the streets, sidewalks and buildings that surround them.

Tree roots also break up pavement and intrude on foundations, he said.

The TREE Fund raises money for research into structural soils that resist compaction, making trees more resistant to diseases and chemical treatments that retard the growth of trees so they do not interfere with overhead power lines, said David Leonard, a consulting arborist for the fund from Lexington, Ky.

One method of reversing compaction is to inject air at supersonic speeds of Mach 1.7, Leonard said.

"I didn't want to cut down trees. I wanted to save them," said Leonard, whose background was in forestry.

Mayor Tom Newcomer read a proclamation, noting that Chambersburg since 1995 has been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Chris Snavely, chairman of Chambersburg's Shade Tree Commission, gave tips on planting a tree to a large group of children from a YMCA summer program.

"When trees are planted in the right fashion, you get a good result that lasts for years and years," he told the group.

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