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Archive for Friday, March 27, 1992

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March 27, 1992

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Although it reads a little differently on the calendar, every day is Arbor Day in Lawrence.

"We take a lot of pride in our landscape in Lawrence," said George Osborne, supervisor of the city's Parks and Forestry division. "I think we have great public support for our trees."

And Lawrence, which is observing Arbor Day today, is one city that puts its money on its maples.

The city spent $5.62 for each of its 65,000 residents in 1991 on its trees, according to figures from the parks and forestry division. Altogether the city spent about $369,000 on trees.

Lawrence also spends more per capita on its trees than most other Kansas cities.

"I would be very surprised if you weren't near the top or at the top," said Jim Nighswonger, program leader of the state's Urban and Community Forestry program.

TOPEKA SPENT $2.90 per resident last year on its trees, Nighswonger said. Overland Park's 111,556 residents each chipped in $2.80.

The city of Manhattan, which has 37,712 residents, barely beat out Lawrence, spending $5.96 per person.

Lawrence's tree funds are well spent, Nighswonger said. "We use Lawrence as a model town for good urban forestry," he said. "You go to Topeka and you don't see anything like you do in Lawrence."

Parks and forestry workers are responsible for the trees in city parks and public areas, from the pines in Buford M. Watson Jr. Park to the linden along Massachusetts Street, Osborne said.

Compared to the cost of other projects for improving the quality of life in Lawrence, such as street repairs, planting and caring for trees is a bargain, Osborne said.

"For what it would cost to pave two or three blocks of a street, we can do a complete tree program," Osborne said. "The costs are so little, but the effects are so noticeable."

ABOUT 75 PERCENT of the money spent on trees last year in Lawrence went toward salaries of 10 full-time parks and forestry workers and a few part-timers, according to Osborne.

About half of the remaining 25 percent funds tree care and maintenance, including watering in dry periods, spraying for pests and paring dead limbs. Osborne said. The remaining money pays for tree plantings.

Although one might expect that Arbor Day would be the perfect opportunity for a city tree-planting spree, Osborne said parks and forestry workers probably will take it easy today, planting-wise.

"We plant trees all year round, so Arbor Day ought to be a day off for us and let the citizens go out and plant for a while," Osborne joked.

INSTEAD, the parks and forestry division helped area Girl Scouts obtain about 180 seedlings for a mass planting over the next few days.

The Scouts will plant small groves of trees at almost every school in Lawrence. They also will plant trees in parks in surrounding communities, such as Baldwin and Eudora.

Osborne helped draw landscaping plans for planting sites and purchased the trees wholesale for the scouts, said Mary Anderson, coordinator of the project and leader of Brownie Troop No. 691.

The Scouts have reimbursed the city for the trees, Anderson said.

"I think it says a lot about our parks department that they so unselfishly gave their time and help for this project," she said.

The fruit of all this attention to trees will be the city's 14th consecutive "Tree City USA" award from the National Arbor Day Assn. Dozens of cities in Kansas win the award every year, Nighswonger said.

WINNING CITIES must spend at least $2 per capita on trees, adopt an ordinance regarding care and maintenance of public trees, establish a tree program or advisory board and declare an official Arbor Day.

Osborne will accept the city's award Thursday in Topeka. He sounds a bit jaded about receiving the honor.

"It's kind of neat in a way, but it depends on what you do with it," he said. "Of course, what I'd like to see is our funding go up."

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