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Tree City USA gets thanks for Q-C shade

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Terry Herbig

Trees are an important aspect of the quality of life in the Quad-Cities. Rock Island is one of several Quad-Cities that have been designated as a Tree City USA, an honor the city boasts at entrances to the community. Among other area cities garnering the designation are Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf.

People in the Quad-Cities may find it easier these days to knock on wood. With the success of the Tree City USA program, more trees are coming to a town near you.

Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf have been involved with the program for some time now. Every time the four apply for another year of the program, the number of trees in the cities grows.

``We have 50,000 trees and are responsible for their maintenance at buildings, boulevards, rights of way and easements,'' Moline forester Greg Masias said. ``This shows that the Moline City Council and the Park Board care about the trees of Moline.''

The Tree City USA program was instituted by the National Arbor Day Foundation, a Nebraska-based nonprofit organization devoted to tree conservation. To become a part of the program, cities have to do more than just sign on the dotted line. A city must demonstrate its commitment by either appointing someone to the program, creating a tree care ordinance or devoting part of its budget to planting and maintaining trees. In addition, cities in the program must educate their citizens.

``Our Arbor Day ceremonies involve a school,'' Rock Island Park District horticulturist Bob Towler said. ``We try to get them interested when they're young.''

For example, students from Edison Junior High and Lincoln Elementary schools in Rock Island participated in a tree-planting program, Mr. Towler said.

``Without the trees, they were stark buildings,'' Mr. Towler said.

The program not only helps promote the usefulness of trees, but also helps in making them last longer.

``Trees are being developed to be more city-oriented,'' Mr. Towler said. ``Trees (planted today) will have stronger branches and can grow in smaller spaces.''

As the programs grow, so does interest in trees in Quad-Cities communities.

``Trees supply a better environment, shade and help make the environment tolerable in hot summers,'' Mr. Towler said. ``The community as a whole is very interested in them.''

-- By Kristophere' Owens (February 9, 1998)

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