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Area residents flock to annual tree event

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Lisa Dunlap Photo Ruben Esquivel, city arborist and South Park Cemetery superintendent, hands out seedlings Saturday during the annual Arbor Day event. Roswell will commemorate its 30th year as a Tree City USA community in June.

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A long line of cars could be seen on North Union Avenue and along Riverside Drive Saturday morning as people participated in a new version of a city tradition, the Arbor Day tree giveaway.

For the past few years, it has been held at the Spring River Zoo and Park, with several state and local agricultural, forestry and wildlife exhibitors and participants. The coronavirus crisis and social distancing rules made it a different type of event this year. People drove or rode their bikes to a tent set up in Cahoon Park, where five city park and cemetery employees and Keep Roswell Beautiful volunteers distributed a bag with information and two tree or shrub seedlings to each adult. Two other people helped with traffic control duty.

Originally scheduled for two hours, the event was over by about 10 a.m. after the supply of about 1,000 seedlings had been given away. Some of the 12 varieties of shrubs and trees came from seeds purchased by the city from the New Mexico Forestry Department. About 100 seedlings were donated by the Forestry Department, according to Ruben Esquivel, the city arborist and superintendent of South Park Cemetery.

Esquivel described the turnout as surprising and knew that some were unhappy that the tree supply was gone so quickly. But he said he considers that a good outcome.

“I know that doesn’t sound right, but it is actually very good when everyone got a plant and there was more needed,” he said. “That just tells me that next year we will order a few more hundred.”

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Each bag handed out contained information about the shrub and tree varieties, as well as instructions on planting and caring for the seedlings, but Esquivel said an informational video also is planned. Most likely that will appear on the Keep Roswell Beautiful Facebook page, he said.

The beautiful, sunny weather and the chance to leave self-isolation for a good reason were two motivations to come to the park, but people like Reyna Carresco were most interested in the trees.

Carresco explained that she has been picking up trees at the event for five years and has had success with growing them at her house.

Roswell’s event is part of the national Arbor Day celebration, which is April 24 this year. Hosting an Arbor Day commemoration is one of the requirements for being a Tree City USA community, as determined by the Arbor Day Foundation. Roswell was the first city in the state to earn that designation and will celebrate its 30th year as a Tree City starting in June. As of June 2019, eight other communities in the state and more than 3,400 nationwide held the designation.

Besides holding an annual event, the city must meet three other criteria for being a Tree City USA. They include annual financial contributions for the care and cultivation of city trees of at least $2 per resident, ordinances related to tree care, and designated people or departments responsible for caring for city trees.

Celebrated nationally starting in 1882, Arbor Day is meant to encourage people to plant trees to capture air pollutants, reduce air-conditioning and energy costs, prevent soil erosion and storm water run-off, preserve wildlife habitats and beautify communities.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

 

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.