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City notes: Arbor Day celebration will include free trees

The greening up of our landscape is a blessing every year at this time, and after the winter we’ve had, maybe even more so this year. The city of Rosemount is working to make our springs even greener.

Once again, the city has earned the Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. It recognizes the effort Rosemount has made to nurture our trees. In the words of the foundation, “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods.” They also provide cleaner air, improved management of storm water, energy savings and increased property values.

As part of our efforts, the city hosts an annual Arbor Day observance, to be held this year on Saturday, May 3, in Central Park. City council members and I always enjoy helping hand out free trees that are funded in part by Dakota Electric. And we’re always impressed by the line of people who show up before the 10 a.m. start time.

This year we have 180 trees to give away, so not everyone has to arrive hours early. And we do reward three people with a jump to the front of the line if they can answer a few questions about the history of Arbor Day. Here are the questions I posed last year – answers are farther below.

1. The first American Arbor Day originated in what city and state?

2. Who is the person who is credited as the founder of Arbor Day?

3. Name at least two reasons trees were needed on the open plains.

The city’s work to protect trees extends beyond Arbor Day. We are facing a threat from the emerald ash borer. It hasn’t been detected yet in Rosemount, but infested trees are too close for comfort. To make it harder for the borers to spread, we are working to replace 160 ash trees in our parks and 40 along boulevards with a more diverse mix of species.

We operate our own nursery to grow purchased trees and transplant them to the parks when they are big enough. We also tend the existing trees. One challenge is the spread of buckthorn, which can crowd out more desirable species. Removing it from our parks is labor intensive and requires frequent follow-ups. Property owners can help us and themselves by attacking buckthorn on their own land.

So here are the answers to last year’s Arbor Day celebration questions: 1) The first Arbor Day in the U.S. was in Nebraska City, Neb.; 2) J. Sterling Morton was credited with founding that observance; 3) Trees were needed on the plains as windbreaks to keep soil in place, as fuel, building materials, and so on.

As I mentioned, you can try your hand at this year’s quiz on Saturday, May 3. But you need to take action before the end of April if you want to claim a tree. They need to go into the ground within 24 hours. And you need to plan before you dig. To avoid hitting utility lines, remember to call Gopher State One Call (651-454-0002) 72 hours prior to digging. And when picking a spot, watch for overhead power lines.

We’ve given away hundreds of trees in the last few years, and they’ve brightened landscapes across the community. Please take advantage of this offer to green up your part of Rosemount.

Mayor Bill Droste authored this column.