By Rick Palsgrove
Trees mean a lot to small towns and Canal Winchester and Groveport will celebrate their leafy friends with Arbor Day events.
Canal Winchester trees
The city of Canal Winchester and Canal Winchester Schools will come together April 28 at 2:50 p.m. to celebrate Arbor Day at Canal Winchester Middle School, 7155 Parkview Drive. Canal Winchester Mayor Michael Ebert will present an Arbor Day Proclamation prior to the commemorative tree planting ceremony. The public is invited. Canal Winchester has been named a Tree City USA for the past 23 years.
“We will plant a native, thornless 2 1/2 inch caliper honeylocust to replace a tree that died near the north parking lot. The species has a history of being heat tolerant and can survive sites with serious soil compaction issues as in or near paved impervious urban parking areas,” said Dick Miller, Canal Winchester’s urban forester. “We want to help teach students the importance of tree canopy coverage and its effect on slowing and filtering storm water movement in urban areas.”
Miller said Canal Winchester “plants 100 to 200 trees each year divided equally between spring and fall so not to plant trees in only one season and put all our eggs in one seasonal basket.”
Miller said diversity is key to future survival of the urban forest canopy.
“We don’t have a crystal ball for what mother nature will throw at us so we plant a lot of different stuff,” said Miller.
He said trees are important to the well being of a community.
“Most good things to say about trees can be linked to one major heading, ‘Tree Canopy Coverage,’” said Miller. “As Ohio approaches the climate of Arkansas by the end of this century, the most positive attribute of canopy coverage will be shade. We will have to take a look at what we are planting now and how much soil we are allowing for a sustainable root mass to get our urban trees through an extreme environmental blast like we had in the 1930s.”
Miller said second in importance is the effect on stormwater retention and purification that all plant matter, living or dead has on the supply of clean water.
“We take so much for granted here in Ohio that there is an unlimited supply of clean water to do with whatever we desire,” said Miller. “All other positive attributes like aesthetics and biophilic relationships are important, but of a tertiary nature compared to the first two.”
When asked what the oldest trees in Canal Winchester are and where they are located, Miller said it’s hard to say for certain.
“If you mean urban trees planted by man, the Catalpa in old town areas may have been planted in the late 19th century, but we have no record I can find,” said Miller. “For single trees I would put my money on the Sweetgum on private property at the north end of Elm Street. Neither species is native to Franklin County, Ohio. That Sweetgum tree could be pre-Civil War era. The oldest wild trees would be either the Swamp White Oak, visible from Dietz Drive on the golf course, or a large American Sycamore along Walnut Creek on the golf course. Both of these species are native to the area and probably approach 200 years.”
An Ohio Nature Education Raptor Program will follow the tree planting ceremony on April 28. Manon Van Schoyck of Ohio Nature Education will bring live owls, hawks and falcons to the Arbor Day event.
“Ms. Van Schoyck will take rehabilitated wild birds from their cages to show us and educate all who attend on the lives and importance of each species,” said Miller. “The importance of all native birds, and all life for that matter, can’t be overstated, with which we only share this planet. I would not want to be here without them.”
Also, Canal Winchester city residents can pick up a free tree at the city’s 17th annual tree giveaway at Stradley Park, 36 S. High St. in historic downtown Canal Winchester, on April 30 from 9-11 a.m. Approximately 120 trees will be given away on a first-come first-served basis. Limit one tree per household. Members of the Street Tree Advisory Board will be on hand to answer questions about residential selections. The giveaway is open to city of Canal Winchester residents living within the city limits only. Proof of residency will be required, such as a city water bill or driver’s license.
The city of Groveport will hold its Arbor Day event, sponsored by the city’s trees and decorations committee, on April 29 starting at 1:30 p.m. with a maple tree planting at Groveport Elementary and then the ceremony will move to Blacklick Park where three maples will be planted. Groveport has been named a Tree City USA for the past 23 years.
“We’re planting maples because we want to begin replacing the shade tree canopy in town,” said Groveport Parks Superintendent Mark DiGiando. “These new trees could live to be 60 to 80 years old.”
DiGiando said Groveport has lost a lot of large ash trees to the ash borer, which resulted in major losses to the town’s shade tree canopy.
“We lost 40 or more mature ash trees the past few years,” said DiGiando. “Some of them were monsters in size, too.”
DiGiando said trees benefit the community by enhancing air quality, providing shade, filtering stormwater runoff, controlling erosion, providing habitat for plants and animals, and by giving overall enjoyment for the residents.
He said Groveport plants 200 to 300 trees per year in town.
“That’s good progress in getting trees throughout the community,” said DiGiando.
He said the oldest trees he knows of in Groveport are around 80 to 100 years old and can be found on Front Street, Blacklick Park, and some other park areas.
“We had some old ash trees, but they’re gone now,” he said.