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Friday August 12th

I am the mayor who speaks for the trees: Chapel Hill holds Tree of the Year contest

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger declared that the town of Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day with a "Tree of the Year" contest.
Buy Photos Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger declared that the town of Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day with a "Tree of the Year" contest.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included an incorrect date for the Town of Chapel Hill's Arbor Day tree planting event. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day this year with Mayor Pam Hemminger’s “Tree of the Year” contest.

Hemminger has called on all Chapel Hill residents, including UNC students, to take a photo of their favorite tree from around town and send it in along with a short description of why it’s their favorite.

"The Tree of the Year Contest celebrates the importance of trees in our lives by focusing on the story of a single tree and its connections to our community,” Hemminger said. "I am excited to hear people's insights and hope it will spur everyone to plant more trees here this fall."

The contest ends on Arbor Day, Nov. 22, the last day of "Arbor Week" in Chapel Hill. Arbor Week and the Tree of the Year contest were both started this year to raise community awareness about the local environment, especially the benefits of trees. 

“Trees really are an important part of Chapel Hill and what makes it a special community,” said Phillip Fleischmann, director of Parks and Recreation for the town. “Our community very much values the trees in our town, and the Parks and Recreation Department is excited to support the Arbor Week activities in any way we can.”

In 2000, the Chapel Hill Town Council mandated Arbor Day to be the first Friday after Nov. 15. Every Arbor Day, the Town plants trees at Town-owned facilities. The tree-planting tradition will continue this year on Friday, Nov. 15, when Hemminger will plant a tree in Ephesus Park along with students from Ephesus Elementary School.

But the Town decided to do more than just a one-day celebration this year. 

“Arbor Week was created as a way to engage the community to think about the role that trees play in their lives and the connections the citizens have to them,” said Jeanne Brown, mayoral aide. “The Tree of the Year contest is part of raising awareness and engaging the community as we head into Arbor Week.”

Other Arbor Week activities include a UNC campus “tree walk” on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m., and a “Right Tree, Right Place” workshop at the Chapel Hill community center on Monday, Nov. 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In addition to tree planting, the Town is undertaking efforts to address Chapel Hill's environmental impact. For example, streetlights and lights in parking decks are in the process of being replaced with LED lights, which are 50 percent more energy-efficient per bulb. The planning department is in the process of writing a Climate Action Plan, which will be presented before the Town Council on Nov. 20, Brown said.

Residents can nominate their favorite tree on the Town's website until Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. 


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