‘Citizen foresters’ plant for future

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A project to plant a grove of trees at Denton’s South Lakes Park caught our attention for several reasons, and we commend those involved.

First, it’s always heartening to hear of trees being added and not removed from the local landscape. Although trees must sometimes be sacrificed for new development, it often seems that we are too quick to tear trees down and too slow to plant replacements.

We also like the idea that this particular grove of trees is being planted in honor of President John F. Kennedy. In our view, a living tribute such as this one is a fitting way to honor the memory of a president who often challenged his fellow Americans to become involved in public service.

That’s especially true when one considers those planting the trees on Wednesday included volunteers along with city employees. The volunteers were part of the second class of “citizen foresters” being trained by the city. They helped plant the first 25 trees that will grow to shade the playground and the trail at the northeast corner of the park.

Angie Kralik, the city’s urban forester, designed the grove, which is expected to add about 75 new trees to a part of the park that has only a few old oak trees.

Some of the trees were donated by Keep Denton Beautiful and others were donated by the Texas Tree Foundation, a 30-year-old nonprofit based in Dallas that has been working with groups in other North Texas cities to plant groves that commemorate each year since Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.

The foundation’s urban forester, Matt Grubisich, showed the group how to plant the first tree, offering guidance about how to prepare the ground, trim the roots, set the tree and mound the mulch.

Lauren Barker, program manager for Keep Denton Beautiful, has been participating in the forestry classes alongside other volunteers, many of whom have already completed Master Naturalist and Master Gardener training. She said she found the additional information about the science of trees helpful.

“We have programs where we are giving trees away,” Barker said. “Ideally, we want them to survive. It will be great to share this information with the public.”

Most of the trees volunteers planted last week are between four and five years old, Grubisich said, and should live about a century.

The group planted bald cypress, red oaks and chinquapin oaks, which are native to Texas. They also planted Monterrey oak and Chinese pistache, which aren’t native but are well-adapted to local conditions, Grubisich said.

Kralik plans to bring the group back in January, when the class will tackle pruning.

The grove at South Lakes Park is the second stand of trees planted by the citizen foresters, Kralik said. Earlier this year, the group planted trees along the rail trail.

For more information about the citizen forester program, call Courtney Blevins at 817-879-3974. For more information about the Texas Tree Foundation, visit www.texastrees.org.

We encourage others to learn more about the citizen forester program and to consider getting involved. It’s a great way to give back to the community.

Denton residents should continue to enjoy the benefits the volunteers’ labor for many years to come.


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