Northland News

City sees Arbor Day 'collective' for future events

Volunteers are still needed at two events: April 27 at Nelson Park and April 28 at Whetstone Park


The city of Columbus is hoping the outpouring of volunteers for this year's Arbor Day events sets an example for the future.

The city will cap off a week of Arbor Day activities at 10 a.m. April 28, when Friends of the Olentangy Watershed will help plant 20 trees at Whetstone Park.

"What I'm calling it is an Arbor Day collective," said Joe Sulak, the city's urban forester.

"The way we look at it is we're partnering with city groups to reforest city parks."

This year, the city will have planted 157 trees with the help of many volunteer organizations, Sulak said.

"What we did is identified parks that needed trees that had community interest," he said. "We're trying to create a citizens group who would be interested in replanting the city's parks."

Columbus Green pitched in at Westgate Park, while Keep Columbus Beautiful supplied tools for several events.

The Harmony Project, a vocal group, rolled up its sleeves for planting and for building a playground at Fairwood Park and again offering assistance at an April 26 event at Deshler Park.

Volunteers are still needed at an event slated for 1 p.m. April 27 at Nelson Park, which also will include assistance from the Bosswood Tree Initiative, and the one at Whetstone Park.

Sulak said volunteers can show up at any of the sites. They are encouraged to wear proper clothing and bring shovels and gloves.

Terri Leist, assistant director for rec and parks, said Columbus has been fortunate to have a number of groups and individuals who donate time and energy in a variety of capacities. Volunteers contributed 105,917 hours in 2012 -- a $2.2 million value to the city, Leist said.

"Columbus Recreation and Parks would not be able to operate without the assistance of volunteers," she said.

"We have nearly 12,000 people who volunteer each year for our department."