By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A tree giveaway will be held Friday by the city of Joplin, Empire District Electric Co. and the Missouri Department of Conservation in observance of Arbor Day.
The event will be at 11 a.m. at Parr Hill Park, 18th Street and Kansas Avenue. Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean will deliver a proclamation on Arbor Day.
Foresters from Empire District and the Conservation Department along with members of the city’s tree advisory board will be available to talk about planting trees in the right locations and to answer questions.
A variety of trees specifically selected to aid in reforestation efforts in Joplin and Duquesne will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. They will be available until 1 p.m. or until all have been handed out.
Joplin also is celebrating its status with the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA, and Empire District as a Tree Line USA utility.
To obtain a designation as a Tree City, a city must establish standards for the management and care of public trees, have a forestry program, and provide education to the public about tree care.
Utility companies that are given Arbor Day recognition adhere to tree care standards, provide annual worker training, and participate in tree planting, public education and tree-based energy conservation efforts.
Joplin’s city manager, Mark Rohr, set a goal last year to plant 20,000 trees in three years to replace those lost or damaged in the 2011 tornado. He announced on April 15 that about 8,700 trees have been planted in that year, and he has increased the goal to 25,000.
“Through this program offered by Empire and the city’s tree program, residents have a great opportunity to replace lost trees at no cost,” Rohr said in a written statement.
The Missouri Community Forestry Council recently held its annual conference in Joplin. It was attended by Charles Ketter and Greg Wilkerson of the tree board, and Chris Cotten and Steve Curry of the parks department.
How trees play a role in storm recovery and how trees benefit communities were the topics of conference speakers David Bloniarz and Ed Gilman. Those who attended planted trees in the tornado zone.
The session was funded by a grant from the Conservation Department.
Residents who want to see how various trees mature may visit an arboretum planted by Empire District at Landreth Park.
Applications also are available at the Joplin parks department office on First Street, west of Schifferdecker Avenue, for free trees for those who live in the Joplin and Duquesne tornado zone.
Details about obtaining free trees through the parks department are available via 417-624-6937.
Empire District’s website also has a section of information about tree choice and planting at www.empiredistrict.com/trees.
THERE ARE 161 TREES planted at Cunningham Park in memory of those who died as a result of the 2011 tornado.