Watertown marks 25 years of Arbor Day with tree plantings

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WATERTOWN — A single planting of an autumn gold ginkgo biloba tree in front of the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library today marks an important occasion for the city’s Arbor Day ceremony.

It’s the 25th year that Watertown is holding an Arbor Day event.

“It is an important milestone,” said city planner Michael J. DeMarco, who has served as the city’s urban forestry coordinator since 2016.

The day also celebrates the career of state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 6 forester Glen Roberts, who recently retired.

Mr. Roberts, who also has served as a member of the city advisory committee, Tree Watertown, helped train city crews involved in Watertown’s tree-planting efforts for years.

The ceremony kicks off a week of tree plantings.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, the Watertown Noon Rotary Club, in partnership with the city and Tree Watertown, will conduct their annual tree planting program, this year at Thompson Park.

Volunteers will plant 50 trees at the city-owned historic park. Anyone interested will meet at the west entrance overlook, just inside the park, entering from Gotham Street.

The Noon Rotary Club has been involved in beautifying Watertown since 1976.

From Monday until next Friday, Department of Public Works employees will conduct their annual spring tree-planting project, adding 74 trees in various city locations.

The city also holds a fall tree-planting event.

While the city’s love affair with trees started decades ago, the city’s tree inventory was dealt a devastating blow when the 1991 Ice Storm killed about 30% of Watertown’s trees. The microburst of July 1995 caused additional damage when strong winds knocked down even more trees.

But a seed was planted a year later. That’s when Tree Watertown was formed. The city received a grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation to start restoring the city’s tree canopy.

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