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Students help Hagerstown celebrate Arbor Day

City earns Tree City USA Award for 23rd consecutive year

City earns Tree City USA Award for 23rd consecutive year

April 03, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN --Second-grader Julian Ford said he felt patriotic as he grabbed a shovel and helped plant a tree Wednesday during the City of Hagerstown's annual Arbor Day celebration at Hamilton Run Trail.

"It feels pretty good," he said. "It's helping our country. I think trees absorb something like carbon dioxide so we can breathe."

Julian joined about 100 other people, including many of his classmates from Potomac Heights Elementary School, to attend the Arbor Day festivities. The children waited in their school bus to stay warm until the celebration began. They came not only to plant trees, but to sing songs between speeches from Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and other special guests.

Bruchey gave a brief history of Arbor Day and listed several benefits that trees provide.

"They give us paper, wood for our homes ... and beautify our community," he said. "Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal."

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Becky Wilson of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources was on hand to present Hagerstown with a Tree City USA Award, which is given to recognize cities for their commitment to improving urban forestry. Wednesday marked the city's 23rd consecutive year of receiving the award, she said.

Wilson told the children that billions of trees would have to be planted to replace the ones that are dying.

"Trees are essential for our ability to live here on earth," Wilson said. "Trees are a very important part of our community."

George Newman III, director of habitat restoration for Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, said before the event began that organizers used part of a $30,000 state grant to buy 10 red bud trees to plant between Hamilton Run and the nearby walking trail. The remainder of the grant money will be used to pay for other projects across the city, he said.

In addition to enhancing the environment for wildlife, the trees will benefit residents by making recreational opportunities more enjoyable, Newman said.

"The purpose is to enhance and improve trails throughout the city for citizens," Newman said. "We think it will be a great demonstration site for the citizens to see what native plants look like and hopefully decide to plant them on their properties."

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