By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Laurel County celebrations for Arbor Day begin Thursday.
A ceremony will begin at the site of the future London Wellness Park at 10 a.m. when a Tree City USA award is presented to Mayor Troy Rudder.
According to Chairman of the Tree Board of the City of London Karen Wyan, the award signifies a city is willing to care for its trees and “promote a healthy urban forest.”
“The trees will work for the city,” Wyan said. “They will provide oxygen and beautify the environment.”
Rudder and Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield will also give out Tree Hero Awards to Laurel County Schools, and Superintendent Doug Bennett will be present to receive the awards. Boy Scout Troop 828 will also receive a Tree Hero Award, and Troop Director Mike Smith will be present to receive the award.
“It’s time to say thank you to the people who help replenish our trees,” Wyan said.
After the award ceremony, shuttles will be available to transport volunteers to the Whitley Branch Wetland Restoration Project to plant tree seedlings. Shovels are provided.
The seedlings are donated by the Arbor Day Foundation and corporate sponsor FedEx as part of the national “Tree Recovery Campaign.” This initiative is a partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation and state forestry agencies, and provides communities affected by severe storms with tree seedlings to help restore forests and trees.
London is being provided with trees to repair some of the damage done by an EF2 tornado in 2012. The storm devastated East Bernstadt in what was called “one of the worst disasters to hit Laurel County” by Emergency Management Director Abby Hale.
“It will take many more plantings to repair the damage,” Wyan said.
Through Friday, the Kentucky Division of Forestry, in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation, will provide 5,000 native hardwood seedlings to Laurel County residents to take home and plant. Seedlings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These seedlings can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at London Farmers Market, Dixie Street Fire Station, and East Bernstadt Fire Station.
The species of trees being planted include northern red oak, white oak, swamp white oak, persimmon, and redbud.