A Forest for the Future at North Gateway Park

The Lamar Tree Board, along with students from Parkview School’s fifth grade class, planted 190 trees around North Gateway Park, Thursday, April 17, as part of the city’s observance of Arbor Week. Tree Board members flagged spots earlier for the planting with the help of Kyle Kurtz from the City of Lamar.

City Crews, according to Tree Board President, Jane Felter, had mowed some areas of the park that had been planted for wild grasses. The areas for planting had soil tests conducted back in February by Wilma Trujillo from the CSU Extension Service. The samples showed the salt content was low enough to eliminate any problems and the Ph content was high. Because of those readings, Felter said the board picked out and purchased several types of trees that were tolerant of those Ph levels. All the trees are being planted in a six to seven acre site as a grove. All the trees will be centered between the first and second ponds, but public access to the grove won’t be until at least one or two years have gone by, giving them an opportunity to take root, using the drip irrigation system that’s being installed.

The board also thought ahead about problems with wildlife feeding off the young trees. Wire guards were set up around each planting to keep beaver, rabbits and deer from eating the bark and branches once the trees had been planted. City crews provided mulch and extra dirt for the plantings and a polymer product that helps retain water is being used to line the holes near the tree roots. Felter added the board is honoring the memory of Barbara Dunivan, a long time member of the Tree Board with the planting of a flowering cranapple tree. Several donations in memory of Bill Arnold have also been received.

Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Department Director, and David Miller from the state Department of Parks and Wildlife were on hand, giving students an assist and some instruction of the proper way to plant a shrub. Akers praised Miller and his department for all the effort they have put into developing the North Gateway Park site. Miller said he’s planning to attend a May 6 grant hearing for funding for future park development. “It’s a ‘Fun with Fishing’ grant that we’re applying for. Right now, this project in southeast Colorado is at the head of the list,” he said. Akers said that funds are tight, though, “There’s only $400,000 available for all of Colorado for just one year. We believe the state is reluctant to grant all that funding to one large project, so we hope we’ll get our share.” He said the $70,000 Lamar is applying for will be used to construct a permanent rest room facility at the primary pond, as well as a 30 by 20 foot T-square dock for handicapped access and the elderly that will extend into the water. “The slopes to the pond have been graded, but they’re still dirt,” Akers explained. He said the dock will provide easier access to fishing on the pond. He added that plans for the tree grove include several picnic tables and a shade complex.

With the land donation from Ira Paulin to the Lamar Tree Board, the nursery that was developed on the north side of town has yielded over 2,500 trees in a 20 year span. Some of those trees have been planted at the four entrances to the city; the 9-11 Memorial corner at the edge of the Willow Creek Park and Memorial Drive; at all the city parks, cemeteries, schools, Prowers Medical Center, along Main Street, the Prowers County Fairgrounds and Savage Avenue. Seven different types of trees were planted at North Gateway Park including Moorpark Apricot, Common Hackberry, Thornless Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffee Trees, Russian Mulberry, Rocky Mountain Juniper and 40 native plum shrubs.

By Russ Baldwin

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