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Smokey the Bear helps build forests for upcoming Arbor Day; Annual Arbor Day giveaway leaves people with trees

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Friends of Spring River Zoo volunteer Ed Dudlo prepares to give one of the five species of trees and bushes to a person attending the tree giveaway. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The city of Roswell has been cultivating its relationship with the Arbor Day Foundation and the nonprofit’s Tree City USA program for a long time. The local community has participated in an annual tree giveaway for 28 straight years, the longest history of any of the 10 New Mexico towns and cities belonging to the national program that promotes green canopies and corridors in urban settings.

Saturday morning at the Spring River Park and Zoo, the city continued its tradition by handing out a thousand trees and bushes, paid for by the city and provided by the New Mexico State Forestry Division. The event, sponsored by the city, the zoo and the Friends of Spring River Zoo, also included the reading of a city proclamation, the presentation of colors and informational booths and displays about tree planting, horticulture and safety.

The goal, said South Park Cemetery Superintendent and city arborist Ruben Esquivel, is for residents to plant thousands of trees by National Arbor Day on April 27.

Each person at the event could choose up to two trees or bushes, with available species being Arizona sycamore, Lacebark elm, Bur oak, Hackberry, Afghan Pine and lilac bush.

Participation in the event and the Tree City USA program is part of the city’s tree management plan, said Director of Parks and Recreation Jim Burress.

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The city’s efforts include planting at least three trees for every one removed. Roswell has 685 acres of park land, but much of that needs to remain open space. “When people plant their own trees, that helps in our efforts to get more trees in the area,” he said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.