Meridian Star

February 12, 2014

Free trees for Arbor Day

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston

    Trees were being given away Tuesday at the offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service located on Highway 19 South in celebration of Arbor Day this Friday.

    In a large shed behind the offices, Kelvin Jackson, supervisory district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, tried to brace against a cutting wind in order to hand out loblolly and longleaf pine tree samplings, nutted oaks, and bald cypresses. Although the weather was not really cooperating, local residents like Bill and Gladys Davenport still got out, just as they do every year, to obtain trees to put on their farm.

    "I've got a lot of digging to do," Bill Davenport said, looking at the armload of saplings he was holding. "I better get my grandsons down here to help me."

    The Davenports have about 26 acres of land on Highway 19 south and they use the trees to beautify the farm.

    Jackson said they typically give away 1,000 trees of each kind.     "We do this right before Arbor Day each year to encourage the planting of trees," Jackson said. "People take trees for granted many times but they are vital to our existence."

    Jackson said when his office receives the saplings, he takes them to Clarkdale High School for them to be separated into individual trees.

    "The students really enjoy doing this," Jackson said. "They actually learn a great deal."

    Meridian's annual Arbor Day celebration will take place Friday at 10 a.m. on the rear lawn of City Hall. The Meridian Tree Commission is hosting the event that is open to the public.

    The Arbor Day proclamation will be given by Mayor Percy Bland followed by planting of the Arbor Day tree. The ceremony will conclude with a seedling tree giveaway sponsored by the Apache Corporation through its tree grant program.      Seedlings for this year’s giveaway consist of several varieties of fruit trees, including pear, apple, plum and mayhaw.