Skip to main content

Draper Journal

Did you know Draper City has a tree commission?

Jun 14, 2021 10:55AM ● By Justin Adams

Certified Arborist Tom Flynn is Draper City’s forester. He maintains the city’s trees and serves as a liaison to the Tree Commission in planning what trees the city should purchase and where they should be planted so that they’ll thrive and beautify the city. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

Two new flowering Crabapple Royal Raindrop trees with magenta-pink blossoms now adorn Southridge Park. Draper City officials, staff and volunteers celebrated Arbor Day and the city’s 22nd year of recognition as a Tree City USA by planting the trees, and the city continues to plant and maintain trees on city-owned property while also working to be water-wise.

The Tree City USA designation comes from the Arbor Day Foundation. Draper achieves that annual recognition by meeting the foundation’s requirements of having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. 

Draper’s Tree Commission, made up of volunteers including Dan Portwood, meets monthly to advise the city on what trees to plant, where, and how to take care of them. “What a great resource. We have several people who own nurseries, one is the arborist for Thanksgiving Point, it’s just a wonderful, knowledgeable group of people,” Portwood said. He is especially impressed that the city’s website has information that can be accessed by all residents about tree planting. “You don’t see a lot of cities with that information available.” 

Portwood said his wife is “the tree expert,” but he’s happy to volunteer on the Tree Commission to help the city. “Having lived in Utah for a few years, I’m not a big fan of sagebrush! I love trees. I wanted to get involved to be of assistance in some way to help beautify the city. There’s nothing better than going out for a nice evening stroll on a beautiful, shade-covered street,” he said. 

Certified arborist Tom Flynn is Draper City’s forester. He maintains city-owned trees in park strips and parks including pruning them and doing risk assessment of dead limbs that could fall. He also handles the planning and purchase of trees for the city. Flynn said the species of tree planted at Southridge Park was chosen because of its drought tolerance and ability to thrive in local conditions. 

According to Flynn, the city has put a big emphasis on being water-wise in recent years. They’ve updated the city’s irrigation clocks with a new technology that allows an analysis of weather data from a series of weather stations in an effort to water more efficiently. “We’re able to draw that weather data from a very close proximity to any given irrigation clock. It will take that into account and decide what is the appropriate amount of water at each clock throughout the city. In the past, we’d turn on a clock and it would water regardless of conditions, even when it was raining. Given the drought we’re in, it’s a really valuable feature,” Flynn said. 

At the Arbor Day event, Parks and Recreation Director Rhett Ogden read a poem written by a middle schooler named Ilan Shamir titled “Advice from A Tree.” It included the phrases, “stand tall and be proud, think long term, go out on a limb, remember your place among all living beings, embrace with joy the changing seasons, feel the wind and the sun, drink plenty of water, be flexible, and enjoy the view.” 

The new trees at Southridge Park will flower each spring and are expected to grow to 15-20 feet tall in approximately 15 years. They have deep purple foliage that remains even after their flowers fade and the leaves transition to bronze, orange and mahogany in the fall.