Tree City USA, ANF centennial celebrated

Times Observer photos by Josh Cotton ANF Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson speaks during Friday’s Arbor Day celebration at Crescent Park.

A young black cherry tree has been planted at Crescent Park.

There were three reasons to celebrate that free on Friday — Arbor Day, the City of Warren’s 35th straight Tree City USA designation and the Allegheny National Forest Centennial.

Between 30 and 35 people participated in a brief Arbor Day event Friday at Crescent Park.

“This action is our part toward forming a healthier world,” Olivia Sechriest, Warren Garden Club President said.

Perhaps there’s no better descriptor of that conservation mindset than the story of the last century on the Allegheny National Forest.

This black cherry tree - the year’s Arbor Day tree - was planted in special commemoration of the centennial of the Allegheny National Forest.

Years of excessive timbering had left the region pretty barren.

“The land was so depleted of trees that locals referred to it as the ‘Allegheny Brush-Patch,'” ANF Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson said. “From that point forward, the ‘Allegheny Brush Patch’ has more than recovered, it has become the working forest that we know today, truly managed for multiple uses.”

She highlighted the role that the Forest Service tries to play in a modern context — providing economic benefits, watershed protection, recreation and tourism opportunities, access to underground minerals and a diversity of wildlife habitats.

“Today we live together in a resilient forested landscape made productive and sustainable through collaborative partnerships,” Davidson said. “For that reason, we chose ‘From recovery to resilience, commemorating 100 years of growth!’ as our Centennial slogan.

“I am honored to serve as the Forest Supervisor during this time of celebration and grateful for the commemoration of this milestone on Arbor Day through the planting of this Black Cherry Tree.”

That black cherry tree, Kris Whittaker explained, can grow from 60 to 145 feet in height and was taken from America to England in the 1700s. It’s a prized species of lumber today.

City Arborist Joe Renike noted that the tree has had many different names including “rum cherry” from its use as a means of producing brandy and rum by early settlers.

He said he’s proud of the work that Department of Public Works crews do to maintain trees in the city and said they have a goal of leaving Warren’s urban forest better than when they found it.

District Forester Cecile Stelter presented the city’s Tree City USA designation on Friday, as well.

“What this means is more than stickers on a sign,” she said, but a “commitment to maintain their community forest.”

“As we commemorate the Centennial, we are not only humbled by the opportunity to serve this and future generations, but also honored to be a part of such a vibrant community,” Davidson added.


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