Two students in each grade one through five at East Salem Elementary helped the Salem city Parks and Rec department plant five trees in the front lawn of their school during the city’s Arbor Day ceremony. This year is the tenth year that Salem has participated and has been a part of “Tree City USA” with the Arbor Day Foundation.
Being a Tree City requires a locality to have a department or committee dedicated to trees, to develop a tree care ordinance, to budget at least $2 per capita towards the care of trees, and to have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
“My kids have really gotten into it,” said kindergarten teacher Shea Foster. “They won’t let me throw away any paper or plastic … green is definitely in, and the kids are all about it.”
During the inside part of the ceremony, the school listened to city leaders and VDOF ranger Bob Bouren. They even learned a special “Cha Cha Dance” about planting a tree to show the mayor.
Bouren has been a strong catalyst for other local communities, too: Buchanan, Vinton, Roanoke County, and Roanoke City also participate in Tree City USA. Ellen Brown with Valley Beautiful, a local organization that has helped start the greenways, to hang baskets in local city markets, and other projects that benefit the beauty of the community, was also there.
“It’s the greatest feeling because the trees we planted [ten years ago] you can now go back and they look like mature trees now,” said Bouren. VDOF is now conducting a study to figure out what the exact tree canopy is of Salem and to find areas where more trees can be planted. The eventual goal, he said, is to have 40% coverage.
Click here to see more pictures from Salem’s Arbor Day.