Loose Ends: Arbor Day connects past and present

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MEEKER | “Last spring we urged our town authorities to set our trees around the town park. It is too late to take action this season, but such action should be taken next spring and town made comfortable and attractive for visiting autoists.”

The editor of the Meeker Herald apparently admonished the town board with these words more than 100 years ago. Anyone who longs for a day when the newspaper editor is not going to express an opinion is never going to be happy. That is why newspapers continue to have op-ed sections. While that tidbit about the urgent need to talk about planting trees seems fairly innocuous it reminds me of some of the pictures I see of what this community looked like when it was first settled.

This small mention of talking about the need for more trees told me that our town fathers viewed the importance of planting trees to offer shade and provide comfort for travelers who were starting to pass through on road trips. Once the word was out about the great sightseeing excursions available, more “autoists”, ( those traveling by cars), would discover the beauty of the area and take advantage of the hunting and fishing opportunities. They knew the importance of “gussying up” their surroundings to make their community more appealing to visitors.

These days when “fool’s spring” tempts those with the green thumbs around us, sending them to sit by their fireplaces with their seed catalogs, there are others in the community responsibly planning to plant trees as soon as possible. The recent request to the Board of County Commissioners for help with the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan District’s tree-mapping project is one recent example. Determining how many new trees need to be planted and determining the health and well-being of the trees planted so many years ago is the task ahead.

Arbor Day is still honored in schools all across the country. Many of these children’s memories of community life involve this special day when they usually get their own tree to plant at home. They not only learn about the environmentally sound practice of planting trees, but they discover how their interest in their community helps everyone. Planting trees that thrive in our semi-arid climate is equally important.

Reading that the town’s newspaper editor in Meeker’s early days felt it was important for the leaders of the community to consider tree planting and encourage tourism instantly connected me to the past. Knowing that trees were planted after his efforts helped frame history for me. The trees that stand sentinel all around the historic courthouse marked the boundaries of the first “city park.” I look at it a little differently than some town residents. It is the past melding into the present for the future.

By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times

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