Wednesday, May 6, 2015

North Elba: Tree City USA

National Arbor Day may have slipped by on April 24, but Lake Placid has held out for warmer weather to celebration this holiday focused on the conservation, stewardship and planting of trees.

Though some may feel the Adirondacks has an abundance of trees, those of the North Elba Tree Board felt a growing concern for trees lost to vandalism and development. According to Tree Board member Bob Hanna, nature does a fair job of replacing trees, but sometimes people need to help out a little bit.

“We have a special Arbor Day celebration on May 13,” says Hanna. “We also go to the elementary school and talk to the 3rd graders about the plants and trees located in the nursery behind the school. There is a poster contest and the children plant seedlings as well.”

The purpose of this celebration is not only about greening the neighborhood. North Elba is listed as the only Tree City USA, a program sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in the Adirondacks. In order to achieve that special classification, Lake Placid has to meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management: have a tree board, a community tree ordinance, spend $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day.

“In 1997 the village and town rewrote their comprehensive plan,” says Hanna. “There was a whole list of things to do in the community. Ruth Hart was instrumental in getting the board set up and recruiting Tim Chick. The Tree Board was finalized in 2000. It started as a way to make the village entry roads more attractive, but we realized that education was just as important.”

Since forming 14 years ago the North Elba Tree Board has helped to plant over 150 trees along village roads, Main Street, the elementary school, village parks, and the town hall. They have given away over 1,500 seedlings and continue to provide educational opportunities through their Arbor Day celebration and school visits.

“We look for different places to go each year,” says Hanna. “Trees get damaged over time and we replace them. We want people to come and help plant a tree in a space they will always remember. I enjoy seeing the trees I’ve helped to plant. It is a fun event that helps our community.”

The May 13th Arbor Day event is free and open to the public. The event will start at 5:30 pm at Peacock Park with a tree planting, various awards, demonstrations and free seedling giveaways. For anyone wishing to become an official Tree City, here is the application. 

Photo of Lake Placid Arbor Day trees used with the permission of Diane Chase,

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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