BLACKFOOT — More than 40 local elementary school students planted trees on Wednesday with the mayor and city employees in Blackfoot to celebrate Arbor Day.
Arbor Day is a day when people are encouraged to plant trees. It’s typically observed in April but for Blackfoot, it’s a little different.
“You know what April means to Blackfoot, Idaho — weather can be real iffy and getting elementary kids out for that activity in April can be dicey. So our parks director Wade Gardner decided, ‘Let’s do it in October instead,’ and here we are, blessed with just a beautiful day,” Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll said.
Ridgecrest Elementary School students planted two Canadian chokecherry trees at the Veterans Park Shelter near the airport. Caroll read a proclamation about the history of Arbor Day to students.
Students split into two groups and were accompanied by city employees who taught them how to plant trees.
“I’ve watched my dad plant trees, but I’ve never planted a tree,” said Kennedy Rinehart, a fifth-grade student at Ridgecrest Elementary School. “It was pretty fun. I got to dump some liquid fertilizer in there, and I got to put dirt in there.”
Gerry Bates, a municipal arborist with Southern Idaho Community Forestry, came to teach students about trees and brought a special surprise — someone dressed as The Lorax, an orange character from a Dr. Seuss children’s book. The book chronicles the plight of the environment, and the character “speaks for the trees.”
Bates presented a special flag to the students that said “Tree City USA” on it.
“The city of Blackfoot has been a Tree City USA for 14 years,” Bates told the kids.
According to the Arbor Tree Foundation website, Tree City USA is a program that provides communities with a four-step framework to maintain and grow their tree cover. As of 2021, there are 3,652 cities that have been recognized. A city can receive annual tree city recognition by meeting four standards which include:
- Maintaining a tree board or department
- Having a community tree ordinance
- Spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry
- Celebrating Arbor Day
Blackfoot has been maintaining those standards. Carroll told EastIdahoNews.com they will celebrate Arbor Day again next year and are open to suggestions regarding where to plant trees.
“One year, we planted trees over by the Community Garden; the next year, we planted trees out at the soccer fields,” he said.