116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Today is Arbor Day, a day dedicated to planting and caring for trees and a day marked by more reflection than usual as residents rally to replenish the trees lost in the Aug. 10 derecho.
The city will host a ceremony at Redmond Park, 1545 Third Ave. SE, from 9:30 a.m. to about 10:45 a.m. Friday, featuring remarks from officials and students, a few lessons about trees and the planting of trees.
Where: Redmond Park
When: 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Friday
9:30: “Pledge of Allegiance” — All
“Welcome” — City Arborist Todd Fagan
9:35 — Johnson STEAM Academy representative/student speakers
9:40 — Dave Blankenship, Trees Forever board member
9:45 — Rod Pritchard, ITC representative
9:50 — Mayor Brad Hart reads proclamation
9:55 — Teaching modules; students will stay in their class groups (approx. 10 minutes each)
• Planting (Todd Fagan)
• Tree benefits (Chuck Ungs/Daniel Gibbins)
• Touch a truck/visit with Forestry staff to ask questions about equipment
9:55 — Volunteer tree planting (concurrent with Teaching Modules)
10:25 — School group picture
10:30 — Activities conclude; planting will continue until all trees are in
Mayor Brad Hart, who will read the city’s Arbor Day proclamation at the event, said Cedar Rapids remains committed to replanting trees and cleaning up the remaining derecho tree debris.
Replanting is “a huge task ahead of the entire community — not just the city, but every business, every homeowner,” Hart said. “And so any way that we can all play a role, play a part in replanting, reforesting Cedar Rapids is important, and this is an opportunity to remind people of that.”
In Cedar Rapids, the unprecedented derecho wiped out around 70 percent of the city’s’ tree canopy. Despite that loss, the city this year earned its 43rd Tree City USA award for its commitment to replenishing the lost trees.
The city has agreed to spend at least $1 million annually as part of a multiyear commitment to the ReLeaf initiative, the city's public-private partnership with nonprofit Trees Forever to replant trees. It also committed $24,000 in the fiscal 2022 budget for watering the new trees for two years after they’re planted
Restoring the tree canopy will be key to the city’s climate action efforts, as trees help lower temperatures and contribute to cleaner air.
Hart said today’s event also will provide an opportunity to offer information about caring for newly planted trees, especially in the first critical years after they are planted.
“That’s how people should look at it, as they’re adopting this tree and it’s their job to take care of it,” he said.
Trees Forever Founding President Shannon Ramsay said with the snow having melted, the damage to Linn County’s tree canopy has become apparent again.
This Arbor Day will have “elements of hope and sadness both,” she said, but she remains encouraged by the widespread replanting.
“That has been difficult to see all the loss and relive that, but it is very hopeful that we’re planting so many new trees and that so many volunteers and community leaders are involved,” Ramsay said.
With all of Trees Forever’s partners, including Hy-Vee, Ramsay said thousands of trees — generally large ones — will be planted this spring. More information about all of the nonprofit’s tree adoption events and about tree care is available at treesforeveradoptions.org.
3,500 trees for sale Saturday
Kyle Thornsbrough, Hy-Vee’s Cedar Rapids district vice president, said approximately 3,500 trees will be distributed this weekend at the Collins Aerospace Recreation Center through the company’s partnership with Trees Forever.
Support from Keurig, Dr Pepper, Kemps, Pepsi and local Hy-Vee customers make it possible to offer the trees at a reduced price, he said.
Contributing to tree planting is also part of the company’s One Step program to improve communities in its eight-state territory, he said, and Trees Forever was a natural partner.
The distribution events also serve as a reminder of the importance of growing trees, not just replanting them, Ramsay said.
“That’s a good reminder for everyone that we all need to be growing trees and making sure that they survive by watering them, mulching them, taking good care of them,” Ramsay said. “The first step is planting.”
Arbor Day is symbolic of all the tree plantings and the dedication to caring for urban forests, she said. It an important to have a diversity of age and native species among the newly planted trees, and to replenish the habitat that wildlife rely on.
“We all have to think in terms of keeping this momentum up for 10 years,” Ramsay said.
Hart said the community and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department are working hard to clean up public parks and other tree-debris filled areas of town. These events provide another opportunity for people to learn and get involved in replanting efforts.
“People should see progress and effort for this for years to come,” Hart said. “But it’s great to see it really starting in many, many ways.”
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