Great Bend Tree Board promotes growth and education
By Russ Edem 530News –
Trees play an important role in people’s lives, providing oxygen, storing carbon and providing shade on hot summer days. But without the help of the Great Bend Tree Board, some trees in the city might not see the care they need.
The tree board members are volunteers appointed by the mayor to advise the city and educate the public, said member Toni Rice. She described the board as active and vital for the beatification of the community.
A city must have a tree board to be named a Tree City USA, and Great Bend has been part of that program for 34 years.
The tree board has have planted 298 trees in the community, pruned 1,275 trees and removed 97 hazard trees. In total, the members have volunteered 211 hours and have been the recipient of the Growth Award for six consecutive years.
“Our goal is simple. We want to promote the importance of trees and plant trees in our city to keep the population growing and keeping them looking beautiful,” Rice said. “We do this with many volunteered hours. We all work normal jobs, but the tree board is an important part of our community. We are very pleased to be the recipient of the Growth Award again this year and this could not be done without the support that we get from the community and our members.”
The Tree City USA Growth Award is awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize higher levels of tree care by participating Tree City USA communities. The Growth Award highlights innovative programs and projects as well as increased commitment of resources for urban forestry. It also provides an opportunity to share new ideas and successes across the country.
One of the ways that the board promotes trees through education is the annual red bud program that is held at local elementary schools. Members of the board talk to fourth graders about the National Arbor Day Celebration and explain how to plant and take care of trees before handing out seedlings to the children.
“We do this every year and I look forward to it,” tree board member Michael Fletcher said. “The children get so excited when they find out that they get to take a tree of their own home and with the help of their parents plant it in their yard.”
The tree board also sponsors rebate programs that help pay for planting new trees or removing dead trees in town.
“We have a brochure that people can get from the city office. In this brochure is a list of trees that do well in our area. If someone would like to plant one of these trees and as long as it is planted the proper way we will cover half of the cost,” Rice said. The rebate for dead tree removal covers a portion of the cost to removed one or two trees.
For more information about programs and services that are provided by the tree board, call the Great Bend City Office, 620-793-4111, or pick up a brochure at 1209 Williams St.