When you’re walking around the city and through your neighborhood, how often do you notice the trees around you?
Do you notice the different colors and shapes of the leaves? The different textures of the bark? The different sizes and shapes of trees?
Do you know what a tree looks like when it is healthy? Do you know what can cause a tree to be sick?
On Sunday, May 20th, parishioners from St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church joined Openlands, the U.S. Forest Service, and Faith in Place for a tree walk ("Paseo de árboles") to learn more about the urban forest that surrounds us.
Volunteer arborists from Openlands’ TreeKeepers program and Mike Rizo from the U.S. Forest Service presented information in Spanish about trees as the group walked through the Gage Park neighborhood.
Participants of all ages learned why trees are important for the health of our ecosystems and neighborhoods.
Trees provide cooling shade during the summer, which is important for urban areas that are often covered in heat-absorbing asphalt. Trees produce oxygen so that we can breathe fresh air. Their roots absorb water runoff during rainstorms, which helps prevent flooding in our streets and basements. Trees also provide important habitat for birds and other animals.
As the group learned the names of different species of trees throughout the neighborhood, the tree experts explained that it is important to have a wide variety of tree species planted. This makes an area more resilient to survive tree diseases or harmful insects that target specific types of trees.
The group also saw examples of how human actions can harm trees. Tying string around tree trunks can constrict growth. Burying roots beneath too much mulch or soil can suffocate a tree. We can also take steps to prevent diseases and insect pests from spreading by not transporting firewood across state or county lines.
Most importantly, in spite of the chilly spring weather, kids and adults alike enjoyed the opportunity to notice and appreciate the beauty of the trees!
Faith in Place, Openlands, and the U.S. Forest Service are partnering on several educational tree events like this one throughout the summer to help people relate to the world around them.
As people feel more connected to the trees around them, the better they are able to advocate for and protect trees in their community!