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The Daily Tar Heel

Town plants trees, holds events to celebrate Arbor Day in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day, the celebration of the planting of trees, on Friday, Nov. 18. Each year the Town of Chapel Hill plants one or more trees at a Town-owned facility, like the ones pictured here on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

On Friday, Nov. 18, the Town of Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day at the North Columbia Public Housing Community. 

Arbor Day is a holiday that celebrates and encourages the planting of trees. In Chapel Hill, the day will feature a tree installation, during which six trees will be planted: two red maples, two white oaks and two red buds. 

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said trees will be planted in affordable housing communities in order to promote shade and better oxygen, counteracting the overheating that occurs in the area.

The celebration is just one of the events that have taken place or will take place during Arbor Week. Other Arbor Week activities include activities such as “Spotting the Spotted Lanternfly,” which was led by Dr. Kelly Oten on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and Arbor Day Pritchard Park Volunteer Day, which will occur on Saturday, Nov. 19. 

Though Arbor Day is typically observed nationwide during the spring, the Town of Chapel Hill has held its Arbor Day on the first Friday after Nov. 15 since 2000.

Kevin Robinson, the senior manager for planning and park operations for Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation, said trees that are planted in the fall have a better chance of survival. This is because the trees' roots have more time to settle in during the cooler, more humid conditions before the heat and stress of the summer. 

“By far the best time to plant is November to December because right after planting them, you don’t need to water them for the next couple of months because of the cooler temperatures,” Neal Bench, the chair of the Community Tree Committee, said. 

Candace Currin, a teacher at Glenwood Magnet Elementary School, said her third grade class will travel from their school by bus to join Hemminger and staff members of the Parks & Recreation and Public Housing departments in planting the trees.

Hemminger said the students will attend the event because third grade students study the local government, and are thus invited to participate in events the Town organizes. 

Currin said her students have created a digital magazine about trees in preparation for Arbor Day. The magazine is a compilation of art and writing pieces that each student completed. 

The students made a variety of contributions to the magazine, including writing articles, creating coding activities, creating crafts, drawing tree maps and even conducting an interview with an arborist. The digital magazine will be donated to the Town “as a celebration of trees," she said. 

“I think it brings the community together," Currin said. "Particularly, for my students, they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, yet still part of a process."

Bench said the Town of Chapel Hill believes teaching students about the benefits of trees is worthwhile.

The observance of Arbor Day is a part of greater efforts to increase the tree canopy, as detailed in the Town’s Climate Action and Response Plan. 

Bench said celebrating Arbor Day will support future environmental conservation efforts. He said the goal is for it to create awareness and create opportunities for people to get directly involved in environmental efforts. 

Tree planting events in Chapel Hill take place year-round. Bench said the Tree Committee’s goal is to plant at least 200 trees annually, and a group of residents recently planted 50 trees near a greenway. 

Robinson said the Town is very proud of its existing tree canopy and urban forest. He added that celebrating Arbor Day recognizes the tree-planting that is conducted throughout the year, as well as how important trees are to the community.

“Arbor Day is recognized by many cities and towns in North Carolina, and it really does encourage people to think about trees, to replace trees and to add trees to their own private properties,” Hemminger said. 

@DTHCityState | 

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