Fergus Falls had its Arbor Day celebration Wednesday, May 8 on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Cascade Street in downtown Fergus Falls. Members of Fergus Falls Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department were there to plant an ivory silk lilac tree, the 41st year they’ve celebrated Arbor Day as part of their Tree City USA program.
Lincoln Avenue in downtown used to be covered in ash trees, but the movement of emerald ash borers heading this way, in addition to the size of the trees beginning to affect surrounding buildings, meant that parks and rec department has been removing the ash trees for the last six years. They’ve been replacing the removed trees with a mix of ivory silk lilac trees and prairie rose crabapple trees, which produce very little to no fruit. Both trees flower in the spring, white and pink blossoms, and once the wind takes the flowers off, beautiful green trees are left. “This is revitalization of the trees downtown, the final step,” Steve Plaza, Parks and Recreation manager said. So far, the department has planted 20 trees on Lincoln Avenue.
Fergus Falls is the longest running Tree City USA city in the state of Minnesota. The Tree City USA program is a part of the Arbor Day Foundation which is meant to help communities manage and expand their public trees. To achieve Tree City USA status, a community must meet four core standards of urban forestry management: maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day. Fergus Falls has been a Tree City USA city for 41 years.
Over those 41 years, Fergus Falls Parks, Recreation and Forestry has planted trees in many locations. “We try to pick a different spot every year,” explained Andy Nelson, city forester. “Last year it was the water tower, they planted hedgerow bushes at the water tower.” They’ve also planted trees at the library, City Hall, the beach and the fire station.