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The Central New York Conservancy and the City of Utica will celebrate Arbor Day on Friday, April 26 with lots of hard work and many volunteers in Utica’s Olmsted Parks and on the Memorial Parkway.

There will also be a ceremonial tree planting, a reception, two inspirational presentations, and a round of thanks for all who make Arbor Day such a special occasion in the city.

Five tree services have volunteered their expertise, equipment, and person power to remove dead and diseased trees throughout the Utica Parks and Parkway System, starting bright and early on April 26 in FT Proctor Park. After a breakfast donated by Holland Farms, more than 30 volunteer tree experts will receive safety training and then begin pruning and felling trees earmarked for care or removal. Crew members will have lunch courtesy of The Willows Restaurant, followed by more tree work. Work in the parks will be coordinated by certified arborist and Conservancy Board member Terry Hawkridge.

Tree services participating in Arbor Day this year include Hutching Tree Service (Madison, NY); Stumpin by Mike (Poland); Rick Turk Tree Service (Stittville, NY); and, Nelson Tree Service (Dayton, OH). National Grid, which is sponsoring Nelson Tree Service, will also assist with the safety presentation.

A ceremonial tree planting featuring City and State dignitaries and representatives from the Conservancy will begin at 10 a.m. at the Conservancy’s office, located at 1641 Genesee Street. Arbor Day is sponsored this year by the F.X. Matt, II Memorial Fund of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. Members of the Matt family will attend the tree planting, which will also memorialize FX Matt, II. The tree, a hybrid oak from the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI), grown by Prof. Nina Bassuk and her graduate students, is the tree selected for planting at the corner of Genesee Street and Derbyshire Road. The public is invited to attend.

Immediately after the tree planting, a reception honoring the Matt Memorial Fund of The Community Foundation will be held at the Conservancy office. Brief presentations about Arbor Day, the Conservancy, and the historic property that serves as the Conservancy headquarters will be given by certified arborist Mike Mahanna and historian Virginia Kelly. Mahanna and Kelly are also Conservancy Board members.

Arbor Day has become an annual signature event for the Conservancy. The observance originated in 1872 in Nebraska City, NB, where one million trees were planted. Arbor day’s founder was J. Sterling Morton, Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland. The day is meant to encourage groups and individuals to plant and care for trees. Arbor Day has flourished and is a recognized holiday in many countries around the world.

Since 2004, the Central New York Conservancy has helped to maintain and preserve Utica’s Parks and Parkway System – which includes FT Proctor Park, TR Proctor Park, Roscoe Conkling Park, and the Memorial Parkway. The Conservancy plants spring bulbs and fall mums, grooms the parks and Parkway, maintains the monuments on the Parkway, and has restored key park features, such as the Lily Pond, stone staircases, and other masonry (including stone bridges) in FT Proctor Park.

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