While the weather outside may feel more like winter, according to the calendar spring has sprung in the Mid-Ohio Valley. That means it is time to start thinking about dusting off the mower and cleaning out those flower beds. What people may not know is that the first full month of spring is recognized by the State of West Virginia as Arbor Month.
During the month of April communities across the country plant trees and do community service projects that green up their neighborhoods. Parkersburg is one of fifteen cities in the West Virginia planning to host similar activities. That includes the Parkersburg Tree Commission’s BIG Tree Contest.
Since 2004, the Commission has recognized BIG Trees in Parkersburg. Last year’s winner belonged to the West Virginia Masonic Temple. The Black Oak (Quercus velutina) had a Circumference at Breast Height (CBH) of 157 inches.
CBH measures the circumference of a tree 4.5 feet above ground level. “CBH is a standard measurement technique,” said Turner Sharp, President of the Parkersburg Tree Commission. “It’s an easy way for people to take stock of their own big trees.”
The ten largest trees this year will be recognized at the City’s Arbor Day Celebration on April 19, 2013. Additionally, the owner of the largest tree will receive a $50 gift card to Lowes Home Improvement Store in South Parkersburg.
If you would like to participate in the Commission’s BIG Tree Contest, nominations forms can be downloaded online at www.parkersburgcity.com/treecommission or on the City’s website under ‘Latest News’. The forms can be submitted by mail to the Parkersburg Tree Commission, One Government Square, Parkersburg, WV 26102 or emailed to email@example.com. The contest is open to Parkersburg residents and land owners in the City.
Did you know?
Parkersburg Tree Commission
Attn: Rickie Yeager, Planning Administrator
City of Parkersburg
One Government Square
Parkersburg, WV 26102
While most people in the valley were finalizing weekend plans last Friday, members of the Parkersburg Tree Commission and students from WVU at Parkersburg were busy pruning trees in downtown Parkersburg on September 28, 2012. In less than 75 minutes, more than 20 trees behind the Bureau of Public Debit and along the Little Kanawha Connector bike trail had been trimmed. Volunteers thinned out tree canopies, removed low hanging branches and took out some dead trees. “It looks like a storm came through here,” said Pam Lutz who is a member of the Tree Commission.
Robert Russell, who is the City Arborist for Parkersburg commended everyone on a job well done. “This project had been in the works for some time,” said Rickie Yeager, Planning Administrator and staff person for the Tree Commission. With the first phase of the LKC nearly complete, the Commission wanted to make sure that trees along the trail were in good shape.
Earlier this year, several trees were planted on Mary Street in front of the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club. The trees will help beautify the area and provide future riders with shade. The second phase of the LKC project will take the path up East Street, east on Mary Street and then out Staunton Avenue where it will end at Corning Park. “The new bike trails under development and the Tree Commission’s efforts to provider future riders with some shade, exemplify good planning” Yeager said. “We hope more people will get involved in future service projects in downtown and throughout the community.” To learn more about the Tree Commission, please visit www.parkersburgcity.com/treecommission.
Picture Above: Students at WVU at Parkersburg and members of the Parkersburg Tree Commission walk back to their vehicles after pruning more than 20 trees along the Little Kanawha Connector trail. Pictured in this photo (left to right) are Josh Campbell, Robert Russell, Pam Lutz and Turner Sharp.
All successful programs require the determination and enthusiasm of a dedicated individual. West Virginia is fortunate to have such an energetic person in Turner Sharp, who wears many hats: Parkersburg Tree Commission Chair, WV Big Tree Program Coordinator, Parkersburg Big Tree Program Coordinator and member of the WV Urban and Community Forestry Council. He embodies the true spirit of a tree champion and through his hard work and perseverance has made significant contributions to forestry in West Virginia.
Some of Turner’s many accomplishments include:
Turner Sharp truly appreciates the vital role that Big Trees play in our communities. He effectively communicates this as well as their need for proper care at many levels. His dedication and hard work have instilled in countless others the same appreciation and respect for Big Trees.
Featured Image Above: Turner Sharp is on the left and Bob Hannah is on the right – Bob presented the award to Turner Sharp at the event. Bob is a Forester with the WV Division of Forestry.
In addition to cleaning the air and reducing stormwater runoff from large rain events, trees are also benefit the local economy. Tree lined streets have sown to increase property values in a neighborhood. Tress can also reduce cooling costs in the summer time if strategically placed around a home or office building. Because of these tangible benefits, Parkersburg residents came together to celebrate the importance of trees in our community on April 27th 2012 at Bicentennial Park. In addition to the presentation of colors by the PHS ROTC, participants were treated to a special performance by the Parkersburg South High School Jazz. The ceremony at Bicentennial Park concluded with the planting of flowers around the City’s Bicentennial (Sugar Maple) Tree in front of the City Building and refreshments provided by the Olive Garden in Vienna. The winner of the Big Tree Contest was the WV Masonic Home in North Parkersburg. The tree recorded a Circumference Breast Height (CBH) of 174 inches.
Later that day, the City’s Arbor Day tree was planted at Jefferson Elementary and over 500 blue spruce tree seedlings were distributed to 4th graders throughout the community. The Tree Commission would like to thank everyone who made Arbor Day possible.
Featured in Photo Above: Students from A Little People Place Preschool plant flowers around the City’s Bicentennial Tree in front of the Municipal Building.
For the last 15 years, the City of Parkersburg has been recognized as a Tree City USA Community by the Arbor Day Foundation. This designation is given to communities who demonstrate they are actively managing their urban tree canopy. According to the City’s annual report submitted to the Arbor Day Foundation in December 2011, approximately 237 trees had been planted throughout the community, while another 50 trees were either pruned and/or removed.
While more high-risk tree pruning and removal projects are completed by private contractors, much of the City’s tree canopy is maintained by the Public Works Department – Building and Grounds Division. Unlike many communities in West Virginia, Parkersburg is fortunate to have a certified Arborist on staff, as well as an active Tree Commission. The Commission is comprised of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving and expanding the City’s tree canopy.
In 2011 the Parkersburg Tree Commission applied for and received almost $15,000 in grant funds to plant and prune trees in the community. One recently completed project includes the planting of 22 street trees on Mary, Liberty and Sixteenth Streets. These trees will not only beautify the neighborhoods, but shade portions of the planned network of bike trails in the City. Another eight trees were planted on Seventeenth Street next to the Arthur Gutske Child Center School by the Parkersburg Tree Commission. “These trees will really beautify the area when they grow up,” said Pamela Lutz, a member of the Parkersburg Tree Commission. The trees were left over from another tree planting project completed by students at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia in April 2011.
Looking ahead, several tree planting projects are scheduled for 2012. One project includes planting 21 trees around the ¼ mile walking path now completed at Fort. Neal Park. This project is made possible by a 2011 Demonstration Grant from the WV Division of Forestry. Another project partially completed is the replanting of street trees in downtown Parkersburg. Over the years, several trees have been removed downtown. Trees were removed because they were either too big, seriously damaged or did not get established. “A Cool Community Grant awarded to the City in 2011 by the WV Division Forestry is helping defray much of the costs of planting new trees,” said Rickie Yeager, Planning Administrator for the City of Parkersburg.”
In the last 10 years, many tree planting projects have been completed downtown as a result of the grant. The Cool Community grant funds projects that seek to improve energy efficiencies in the built environment by shading public roadways, parking lots, buildings, etc.
In addition to planting trees, the Parkersburg Tree Commission likes to recognize Big Trees in the community. Therefore, residents are encouraged to participate in the annual Parkersburg Big Tree Contest. If you or someone else you know has an old, large and beautiful tree, please consider submitting a nomination. Nomination forms can be found online at the Tree Commission’s website www.parkersburgcity.com/treecommission/ or by calling 304.424.8558. Nominations will be accepted thru Friday, April 13, 2012 at 4:30pm. The ten largest nominated trees will be recognized at the Tree Commission’s 15th Annual Arbor Day Celebration on April 28th at 10am. The Ceremony is held at Bicentennial Park (3rd and Market Street in Downtown Parkersburg.
Find out more about the Parkersburg Big Tree Contest.
On Friday, August 13th, members of the Parkersburg Tree Commission gathered at City Park to dedicate an American Elm Tree next to the picnic shelters by the steam engine. The 10' Elm was donated to the City by the Elm Research Institute in Keene, New Hampshire, to establish a Liberty Tree Memorial in the community.
In the late 1700's, the Elm was a symbol of Freedom for Americans who resisted the British Empire's imposition of the "Stamp Act" upon them. The story of this symbol of freedom is told on a bronze plaque installed at the foot of the tree. All residents, students of history included, are encouraged to stop by the Park to see the Liberty Tree Memorial. Over 400 memorials have been dedicated in towns and cities across America.
Liberty Tree Day was established on August 14, 1964 by Endicott Peabody, then Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. On that day, Mr. Peabody encouraged citizens to recall the significance and role of the "Liberty Tree" in the formation of the county's independence, and to rededicate themselves to the tradition of our ancestors and the principles of freedom under which the country has grown and prospered.
What was the Stamp Act? Find out at USHistory.org
The Parkersburg Tree Commission held its 13th Annual Arbor Day on April 30th, 2010. In addition to being recognized as a Tree City USA community by WV State Forester Bob Hannah, Mayor Newell congratulated Madison Pagan for taking second place in the WV Division of Forestry Poster Contest. For her achievement, Madison was presented with a certificate and a framed copy of her award-winning poster.
After listening to the smooth sounds of the Parkersburg South High School Jazz Band, Mr. Sharp, Chair of the Parkersburg Tree Commission, announced the winners of the 2010 Big Tree Contest. The biggest tree had a recorded Circumference Breast Height (CBH) of 147 inches. The Ginkgo Tree is located at 1124 Lynn Street.
The ceremony concluded with members of the Parkersburg Tree and Bicentennial Commissions dedicating a Sugar Maple Tree in front of the City Building. It was in 1820 that the City changed its name from Newport to Parkersburg. Affixed to a block of sandstone in front of tree will be a plaque commemorating this event. The plaque should be installed sometime in June. The block of sandstone is historically significant, because it was once part of the Old City Building located at 5th and Market Street.
More than forty people attended the ceremony in Bicentennial Park.
Parkersburg, WV was recognized by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to urban forestry. It is the twelfth year Parkersburg has earned this national designation. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.
Parkersburg has met the four standards to become a Tree City USA community. Tree City USA communities must have a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
"We commend Parkersburg's elected officials, volunteers and its citizens for providing vital care for its urban forest," said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Trees provide numerous environmental, economical and health benefits to millions of people each day, and we applaud communities that make planting and caring for trees a top priority."
Communities that earn Tree City USA recognition not only have taken the time to meet the four standards, they know that trees:
More information about Tree City USA can be found at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.
About the Arbor Day Foundation:
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit, environmental and education organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.
Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 30th this year and thousands of Fourth Grader Foresters all across the United States will roll up their sleeves and plant a tree. The goal of this project is to help revitalize a remarkable idea — observation of Arbor Day in America's schools. As a result, every Fourth Grader at Blennerhassett, Criss, Emerson, Fairplains, Franklin, Gihon, Jefferson, Madison, Martin, McKinley and Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School will be receiving one tree to take home and plant on Arbor Day. The Parkersburg Tree Commission and Bicentennial Commission teamed up this year to sponsor the program in Parkersburg.
"I think the Fourth Grade Foresters project is a great way to inform young people about the importance of trees and the City's 200th birthday, as well as get them involved by planting a tree," said Rickie Yeager, Planning Administrator for the City of Parkersburg. "When I was a kid, I received a tree at school and today it is taller than my grandma's house." Mr. Yeager has been working with the Tree and Bicentennial Commission on this project.
"This project is made possible because community organizations, like the Tree and Bicentennial Commissions, covered the cost of each of the individually packaged evergreen trees, so that there is no cost to the students, the teachers or the school," Debra Ersch, Cofounder of the Fourth Grade Foresters Project stated. "It's a wonderful way to show support for the community, education and the environment."
Each fourth grader will receive an individually packaged 12"-18" evergreen tree seedling, sealed in a polybag, by workers with disabilities. Each package will include information about The City's Arbor Day, planting and care instructions, and the name of its sponsor. Seedlings will be distributed to area elementary schools on April 30th at the end of the school day.
What makes this so special? The trees are packaged in workshops that employ adults with disabilities through the Free Trees and Plants project. Started in February 2004, the www.freetreesandplants.com project obtains from growers and nurseries some of the millions of unsold plants that are destroyed each year, hires workers with disabilities to package them and then sends the plants to anyone who orders them at www.freetreesandplants.com. Consumers simply pay for processing and shipping costs.
I never before knew the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company.
Have storm damaged trees? Storm recovery videos from the Arbor Day Foundation will tell you how to cope.
The City of Parkersburg, WV is proud to be a member city of Tree City USA, and a Mid-Atlantic Chapter member of the International Society of Arboriculture.
©The City of Parkersburg, WV. All Rights Reserved.
Write the Tree Commission at:
City of Parkersburg
PO Box 1627
Parkersburg, WV 26102
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For 2010. All meetings are scheduled for 1:00pm at the City Park Pavilion, unless otherwise noted.
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