Canal Winchester will once again honor its designation as a Tree City USA community by holding a special Arbor Day event and tree giveaway.
The city and the school district will hold a joint Arbor Day observance at 2:30 p.m., Friday, April 26, with second-graders at Indian Trail Elementary School, 6767 Gender Road. The event will be hosted by the city's Street Tree Advisory Board.
"We want to teach students about the importance of shade and the environment," Canal Winchester Urban Forester Dick Miller said.
The Street Tree Advisory Board is a five-member panel of residents who work to preserve, protect and enhance trees and plants throughout Canal Winchester. Due to their efforts, along with those of city staff members, Canal Winchester has qualified as a Tree City for the past 20 years, according to Miller.
The 14th annual Canal Winchester Free Tree Giveaway will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 4, at Stradley Park, 30 S. High St. Miller said 80 trees will be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a limit of one tree per household.
"We're offering a variety of trees this year including serviceberry, redbud, chionanthus, dogwood, magnolia and dawn redwood, assorted evergreens and a few other miscellaneous trees," Miller said. "The city's tree canopy is its first defense against stormwater due to its ability to catch rain and prevent it from overflowing drains."
Miller and the Street Tree Advisory Board have been working steadily over the past years to remove and replace ash trees throughout Canal Winchester because of the invasive emerald ash borer; at the same time, he has been working to replace other old and dying trees, sometimes working with private residents to explain the best options for replacing felled trees, given the local climate and resistance to known diseases.
"We currently have three trees we're concerned with," he said. "The first is near the basketball court at Guiler Park. It's an old Norway maple, probably a century or more old, that's largely gone. Second is off West Street and is overhanging the South Central line. It's on private property, so we'll help her decide on a good replacement. Last is near the entrance of Winchester Village, where about 10 trees need completely replaced."
In case of rain, the Indian Trail event will be moved indoors to the school cafeteria; however, the tree giveaway will be held rain or shine. Residents are asked to bring a driver's license or utility bill to prove residency for the tree giveaway.
Members of the Street Tree Advisory Board will be on hand to help load trees and answer questions.