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Draper Journal

Draper volunteers observe Arbor Day by planting shade trees in Galena Park

Jun 02, 2023 10:06AM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Volunteers paused to take a group photo at Draper’s Arbor Day tree-planting event at Galena Park on May 5. (Katherine Weinstein/City Journals)

For 24 years, the city of Draper has been recognized as an official Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. One of the requirements to be part of Tree City USA is that a city must celebrate Arbor Day. Draper City did just that on May 5 when volunteers and city officials gathered at Galena Park to plant 15 shade trees.

In spite of gray skies and a chilly wind, about three dozen volunteers came to Galena Park ready to get to work. Draper Parks and Recreation director Rhett Ogden declared, “It’s great weather to plant trees.” 

The event began with opening remarks from Ogden and other Draper City officials. Ogden read a poem, “The Gift of the Tree” by Lenore Hetrick. 

Dave Cloward, chair of the Draper Tree Committee thanked the volunteers for coming. “This is a great project because we want to make Draper a beautiful place to be,” he said. Cloward explained that Draper City partnered with Tree Utah to help fund the project. Tree Utah is a local nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the environment through tree planting, stewardship and education.

Amy May, executive director of Tree Utah, introduced an arborist who coached the gathered crowd on how to plant the trees and use the tools safely. The volunteers then took up their shovels and started digging.

The very first Arbor Day was observed on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska when the State Board of Agriculture approved a proposed holiday dedicated to the planting of trees. As explained on the Arbor Day Foundation website, the pioneers who settled on the prairie of Nebraska Territory missed the trees they left behind back East. Trees served as windbreaks to keep soil in place, provided shade from the hot sun and were used as fuel and building material. 

While the state of Utah did not officially celebrate Arbor Day until decades later, Utah pioneers also planted trees in the Salt Lake Valley. The first settlers in Draper planted fruit trees along with trees to use for lumber, shade and fuel.

Today, as Draper City Council representative Tasha Lowery pointed out, there are over 4,000 trees in Draper’s parks and public spaces alone. “Draper City is dedicated to continuing to plant trees, adding to the natural beauty that surrounds us here,” Lowery said. “Draper is fortunate to have volunteers who are passionate about planting and caring for trees.” 

Shade trees are sorely needed at Galena Park. The volunteers planted three varieties: the honey locust, green vase zelkova and the frontier elm. The varieties were chosen for their resistance to cold and drought as well as their qualities as shade trees. 

“Trees are a valuable part of a community,” Lowery said. “Studies have shown that exposure to trees can help with physical and mental restoration in reducing anxiety, depression and improving moods.”

Thanks to the initiative of Draper City and the work of dedicated volunteers, future generations will enjoy the benefits of the new trees planted at Galena Park. λ