Rifle to celebrate Arbor Day | PostIndependent.com

Rifle to celebrate Arbor Day

One of several trees throughout Rifle that has had its branches broken by residents.
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To celebrate Arbor Day this year Rifle is pushing the holiday up a week and as such the parks department urges its residents to support and protect its most underappreciated resource, trees.

“The focus is to get the word out to protect trees and protect public parks,” said Tom Whitmore, director of the parks department. “A lot of it is with park visitors.”

Over the years the parks department has needed to replace as many as half a dozen trees at Centennial Park because of damage done by residents, and Whitmore would like to see that change.

“Our problem has been with young trees,” he said. “Breaking branches and tearing bark stresses the tree, and if we don’t catch it right away it can be extremely damaging. Kids do it inadvertently, and the next thing you know you’ve got a dead tree.”

With Arbor Day right around the corner, Whitmore and the rest of the parks department hopes to see families and particularly young children more conscientious of the health of Rifle’s trees.

“It’s a long-term investment when we plant a tree,” he explained. “Some of them are very young, and limbs are very important for a young tree to get energy.”

While Arbor Day falls on the last Friday of April every year, towns often set their own date to celebrate. For Rifle the holiday was observed Friday.

“In Rifle we hear quite a bit from citizens that want shade in the park,” Whitmore admitted.

That becomes more difficult if new trees must be removed because of damage.

Trees can reduce erosion of topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife, according to the city of Rifle Arbor Day Proclamation.

“The City of Rifle urge[s] all citizens to support efforts to protect our trees and to support our City’s urban forest, and further urges all citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the well being of present and future generations,” states the proclamation.