By Randy Arrington
LURAY, April 23 — The Town of Luray held its 22nd annual Arbor Day Celebration on Saturday at Lake Arrowhead. Several speakers shared information about the importance of trees and local efforts being made to protect this vital resource.
“This is the 22nd year that Luray has been named a Tree City USA…which recognizes a special effort toward planting more trees and creating more green space,” Cain Harbison, a local forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry, told those in attendance. He applauded the efforts of Luray’s Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Jen Jenkins to secure grant funds and maintain Luray’s Tree City USA status.
“Trees define our community,” Jenkins said. “Without trees we have a lot of conditions that are detrimental to our water quality.”
The parks superintendent noted the many plantings along the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway have been aimed at controlling erosion and sediment control along the Hawksbill Creek. Jenkins added that better water quality also better serves wildlife, such as the thousands of trout that have been stocked in the local stream.
“The Town has made some significant efforts to protect riparian areas,” Jenkins said. “We have installed more than 4,100 trees since 2020.”
Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer read a proclamation noting the local recognition of Arbor Day which first began in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. During the celebration of one century of the concept, the Arbor Day Foundation was formed in 1972. Today, the organization promotes the planting of 10 million trees every year.
On Saturday, attendees at Luray’s Arbor Day event were entertained by a the reading of a poem titled “Growth” penned by Luray High School student Leahnesse Warrick, as well as a campfire sing-along “And the Green Grass Grows All Around” performed by the musical duo Tinker Belle (Nina Bohrod and Lisa McQuail).
Katie Sokol, chairperson of Luray’s Tree and Beautification Committee since 2012, said for the past decade she has been “watching Luray grow greener.” She spoke of the committee’s role in selecting trees and locations for plantings in parks and other areas all around town. Sokol also noted that the group is searching for local artists to help restore the Town’s many murals, which the committee also oversees.
Parks and Rec assistant superintendent Morgan Housden spoke about the community tree planting at Lake Arrowhead near the Ruritan shelter, as well as the tree seedlings that were available at the event for free. The Town handed out Loblolly Pine seedings, while the Virginia Forestry Department offered River Birch, Mulberry, Button Birch and Northern Red Oak seedings.
The Shenandoah Master Gardeners were also on hand to answer questions about spring plantings. Several organizations gave out free items for adults and children alike, including sweet treats provided by event sponsor Greatful Cookies.
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