Spring has sprung, even if it has been a windy and cold start to the season. It is always nice to see the grass green up and watch the trees come out of their winter dormancy. Even though year-round employees are busy all winter in preparation for spring, there is some excitement when seasonal employees arrive for work and their regular routines are established. Employees take great pride in and ownership of the parks they are assigned to.
I get to spend some of my time in the buzz of the many forestry-related projects that happen in the spring. This year we are improving our tree fertilization program. It is the first time we have performed in-ground injections with mineral and micro-nutrients for the trees. We generally do not add fertilizer when planting because we want the tree to acclimate to the soil and site that it will be growing in so that the tree can thrive long term. We are now giving the trees some fertilizer only during March and April to help in their overall health. We want the trees to green up in the spring and be ready to go dormant in the fall. Therefore, by not overfeeding them, we can accomplish this goal. Our team of Spence Chivers and Parks Maintenance Foreman Mike Barton have been instrumental in developing and initiating this program.
Also in the spring, there is a flurry of tree planting, especially in April, which is the month of Arbor Day and Earth Day. This year I made an effort to take on all persons and organizations who volunteered to plant trees. In early April I started to receive calls and lined out several projects for tree plantings with various civic groups.
The first was a little project for one tree to be planted on April 16th at Settlers Park with Carissa Springer and her Daisy Troop. Two of the Parks crew, Jeremy Aldrich and Debbie Miller, helped on this project.
The second project was with Amanda Martin and several high school and college students on April 22nd at Tully Park. Four trees were planted on Memorial Tree Lane with the assistance of Parks crewman Rick Heller.
The third project was for Arbor Day in Meridian on April 29th held at Discovery Elementary. Two trees were planted at the celebration—one as a donation from Jayker Nursery—a Ruby Lace Honey Locust, and the other—an Imperial Honey Locust. There were roughly 150 students and dignitaries present. Councilman Brad Hoaglun read the official proclamation for Arbor Day. Later that day I returned to the same school to speak to about 300 of the student body, who did not attend the celebration that morning.
The fourth project was on the same day at 4 p.m. at Champion Park with Rachel Van Derlaan and her Cub Scouts. We planted four new Dawn Redwood trees at the park. It is a challenge to have 20 boys full of energy and getting them to go in one direction. The first thing I did was to teach them about safety when using shovels, rakes, and while carrying tools. I gave the instruction and let them do the planting. It took a while to fill each hole with soil around the trees because it had rained and the soil was wet and heavy. The shovels were bigger than a few of them, but the scouts kept working until they finished.
Then on Friday, April 30th, City Council President David Zaremba, Parks Commissioner Phil Liddell, Parks & Recreation Director Steve Siddoway, and I attended the State Arbor Day Celebration at the Capitol. There the City of Meridian received recognition as a “Tree City USA” again this year and received a Growth Award for our tree plantings through projects last year.
There were 475 trees planted in the parks system in 2009. I am pleased to note that this is our 8th consecutive year to receive the Tree City USA designation.
The fifth project was also on the 30th later in the day, where I attended a tree planting project with Diane Overall at Lake Hazel Elementary School. I was able to put her in touch with a nursery to help with a tree donation. We planted five trees, and I had the opportunity to talk about trees, proper planting practices, and care.
The sixth project is on May 19th with an Eagle Scout tree planting project at Seasons Park. Ten new Norway Spruce trees will be planted and donated to the City.
Also in April, we received notification of an award for a stimulus grant for tree work in the City. The grant totals $44,500. There will be five hazard trees removed and replanted in the downtown area. Also all of the downtown street trees will be trimmed. In another project, about 250 trees will be pruned in two parks. The work will be completed this summer.
We are also working on the specifications for the Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park arboretum.
The entire 60 acres will be an arboretum, but there will also be a seven-acre specimen arboretum.
We hope that it stands apart as an interesting destination to see trees that may not be easily found in the valley.
You can see that a lot of forestry-related activities are occurring this spring season. I get to organize these projects, but it takes a good and willing Parks crew and many volunteers to help get everything set up, ready, and completed. I appreciate everyone’s help in making these projects successful. The City of Meridian is truly a great community to live, work, and raise a family in.