Arbor/Earth Day celebrated throughout the city

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Fourth- and fifth-graders at Witt Elementary School in Westminster celebrated Earth Day and Arbor Day early with a lesson on nature from city staff.

On April 18, Westminster forestry and open space crew members taught students the importance of both holidays, and also gave students the opportunity to take the lesson home with them by providing seedlings to the students.

“We do this every year. We go to different schools to talk about Earth Day and Arbor Day,” said John Kasza, city forester.

“It’s a lot of fun to teach the kids about the benefits of trees.”

Normally the program includes an outdoor tree-planting activity, but due to a snowstorm earlier in the week plans changed.

Instead, students were shown how to plant seedlings indoors in the school library.

Students were also given a brief history of Earth Day and Arbor Day, as well as tips to keep the environment clean and healthy. Patti Wright, city volunteer coordinator, expressed the importance of recycling.

“You are all important and can help keep the environment and save energy by recycling and reusing things,” she said.

For years the city of Westminster had celebrated Earth Day and Arbor Day.

At the April 8 council meeting, Mayor Nancy McNally declared April 20 as Earth Day and Arbor Day in the city.

The city was also presented with the Tree City USA award during the meeting for the 28th consecutive year.

Kasza said in order for the city to earn the award, the city must have a professional staff designated to forestry, must have a city Arbor Day celebration, have a tree care ordinance and budget at least $2 per capita towards tree care.

Maintaining the trees in the city is no small feat. Kasza, who’s worked in the forestry department for 25 years, said the city owns 14,000 trees that his crew maintains. Those trees are in parks, open spaces, road medians and around city hall.

“We estimate in total there are around 460,000 trees in the entire city,” he said.

“We estimate the benefits of those trees to be around $23.4 million in both environmental benefits and property value benefits.”

The city also hosted an Earth/Arbor Day open house April 20 at City Park Recreation Center.

There, residents received free trees and lots of information on “living green.” The forestry crew distributed free tree seedlings, mulch and tree-care advice and information.