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Green Way: Community Effort Plants Park Trees

03/24/95 by Halley Brantley


From March 24, 1995, issue of the Salisbury Post


What was once an uninterrupted plain of green now has trees – 60 of them – dotting the landscape.

Granted, most of them are just unassuming sticks protruding from the earth now, but in time they will be shade trees – sweetbay and sycamore, sugar maple and willow oak. And the stretch of the Salisbury Greenway that goes through the park will be more inviting for walkers and joggers and nature lovers.

So how did those trees get there?

Through the volunteer efforts of Catawba College students and Salisbury Greenway committee members and folks from Salisbury Parks & Recreation and Public Services – and through a $5,000 grant from the N.C. Division of Forest Resources and he U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Students joined forces with Salisbury citizens on Saturday morning to plant the trees.

“We used as many native trees as we could,” said Jane Ritchie, a landscape architect who donated a portion of her services.

Her design incorporated two major ideas: to provide shade trees and present a diverse planting so that students from Horizons Unlimited and others could use the park as an educational area, comparing characteristic like bark and leaf texture and fall color.

“In the summer, it’s so hot, and there’s not a tree for the whole length of the park,” Ritchie said. “We feel like if we can get some of these shade trees going, a path meandering underneath the trees is going to be a lot more inviting.”

Dr. John Wear, chairman of the Salisbury Greenway Steering Committee and director of Catawba’s environmental science program, believes the
project serves many purposes. It not only beautifies the park and provides a learning laboratory but also teaches Catawba students about the importance of volunteering.

“Volunteer groups have come in and spent time on this, and people in our own community have helped provide financial support,” he said. The Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service even provided snacks of trail mix, apples and drinks for the workers, and members of the Master Gardener class served the refreshments.

“This demonstrates to our Catawba students that, by taking part in activities like this, they can make things happen,” Wear said. “Hopefully, after graduation, they can make a difference in the communities where they live.”

Catawba professor Dr. Steve Coggin, his wife, Diane, and their sons, Tommy and David, helped. “It’s a worthwhile cause,” Coggin said. “It’s a nice spring day, and we’re having fun. If you ask Tommy, he’ll tell you he’s working harder than anyone else here.”

Bret Estep, a Catawba student from Roswell, Ga., was pleased to be a part of the project. “It’s not often that you get the chance to plant multiple trees at once,” he said.

A senior, he knows he will be able to return to Salisbury in 10-to-15 years and see the fruits of his labor. “I’ll be able to see that I’ve made a difference and made a lasting impact on Salisbury,” he said. “That’ll stick with me for a while.”

Said Joe Morris, horticulturalist with the city of Salisbury: “We probably would not be able to take on tree plantings of this magnitude without some sort of help from the college or volunteers in general. I see this as the beginning of a whole new approach to getting community projects done in Salisbury.”

Salisbury Mayor Margaret Kluttz chatted with many of the volunteers, singing the praises of the Salisbury Greenway. “It’s a wonderful way to connect the whole city,” she said. “I don’t think any of us can imagine how important it is going to be. Great communities have these kinds of amenities that give them stability.

“I think small towns have to search for stability and a way to grow gracefully and create attractions to keep young and old living here in harmony. It kind of renews your soul to go out and shake it out on the greenway.”

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