In a few years a stretch of Dinglewood Park along Weracoba Creek in Columbus should look considerably more shaded, on hot summer days.
That’s because about 35 students from Carver High School, Brookstone, Columbus State University and Chattahoochee Valley Community College helped the nonprofit Trees Columbus plant young trees there on a cool but sunny Saturday morning, as the city marked Arbor Day with public service and celebration.
Trees Columbus Executive Director Dorothy McDaniel said volunteers set out a total of 16 sycamores, white oaks and maples, planting them in clusters. The trees’ root balls were big enough to need 20-gallon containers. The trees were planted just a few feet away from the creek’s edge. City crews later will plant closer to the creek to help stabilize its banks.
George Stanton, a CSU biologist who has studied stream ecology in Columbus, said trees along creeks offer multiple benefits: Their shade helps cool the water, so it doesn’t become too hot for the aquatic life that populates a healthy stream; their limbs and roots slow water runoff, so more water goes into the soil instead of flowing away; and they provide habitat for birds and other animals.
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Stanton said a 1972 study of the effects of urbanization on Bull Creek’s tributaries showed rainwater in Weracoba Creek flowed away in a day, but rainfall in the more wooded Flat Rock Park took a week to dissipate.
Decades ago, the development trend was to build channels buttressed by rip-rap to collect and drain storm water away as quickly as possible. In this era of extreme drought, maintaining soil moisture is more of a priority, Stanton said.
After the tree planting Saturday, folks gathered in Lakebottom Park to celebrate Columbus’ Arbor Day, which is marked earlier than National Arbor Day in April because trees are best planted in the fall and winter when they’re dormant and have more time to settle in, said McDaniel. By April in the South, trees have begun to bloom and leaf out, so here it’s better if they’ve been planted.
Also participating in Saturday’s event were students from Rigdon Road Elementary, Marshall Middle School, Dimon Elementary and Columbus 4H.
On Monday, Trees Columbus is sponsoring a free workshop on proper tree pruning 10 a.m.-noon in the small dining room of St. Luke United Methodist Church. It will hold another tree planting in Bibb City on March 7.
For more information on Trees Columbus, call 706-571-0436 or visit www.treescolumbus.org.