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Neither snow, sleet nor wind could keep the volunteers away

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

Despite cold temperatures and snow flurries in April, about 50 volunteers showed their support for the city's parks and trees Saturday.

People gathered at Viking Park Saturday, the city's newest park - located next to Bonney Lake Elementary - for an Arbor Day ceremony and Park Appreciation Day.

At the ceremony, Jackie Ceola was presented with an award commemorating her late husband, Robert Ceola.

Fred Jacobsen was presented with the Robert Ceola Arbor Day Award.

Hamilton gave a concise history of Arbor Day and led the proceedings.

Sarah Griffith, urban forestry program manager with the state Department of Natural Resources, said Bonney Lake earned the designation as a Tree City USA.

According to Gary Leaf, community services director, to be awarded the Tree City USA title means the city will spend at least $2 per capita or $30,000 each year on trees projects around the city.

“This is more than just a feel-good thing,” Leaf said. “What is important is what is being accomplished.”

Leaf said the city has inventoried about 3,000 trees around the city, mostly in parks. With the help of a forestry grant the city purchased a database program to help with the inventory.

The city put together a street-tree management plan. Leaf said the No. 1 project in the plan is to plant trees in the Eastown area once state Route 410 is widened. Trees will be planted in the median and on the sides of the highway.

The plan also calls for trees to be planted on the east side of Sky Island Drive along with school zones and park areas.

“Studies have shown trees have a traffic calming effect,” Leaf said. “Trees actually slow people down. Traffic calming is one of the focal points of the street-tree plan.”

Leaf said the forestry grant stated an inventory and a prioritized plan needed to be adopted, but the city went far above the grant requirements with the plan.

The city has been purchasing young trees and keeping them in the nursery on the Moriarty property next to Allan Yorke Park.

“We've been doing a lot of little stuff,” Leaf said. “But when it is all added up it comes to quite a bit.”

During Saturday's event, volunteers placed two picnic tables at Viking Park and spread wood chips around the area.

At Ascent Park, high school students and very cold adults worked through snow, rain and wind. Concrete edging blocks were put into place and shrubs and trees were planted.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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