Wearing matching brown shirts printed with “Plant Trees,” a herd of children jumped, spun and flailed their arms to guitarist Brett Pejsa’s rendition of “Time Warp” — stirring up a cloud of dust on a windy Cortez morning.
Approximately 250 area elementary students descended upon the Cortez Municipal Tree Farm for Arbor day — romping, eating ice cream, and spraying a hose from a wildland fire truck with Smokey the Bear.
Students learned that trees produce oxygen, produce shade as well as providing shelter for animals and people.
Children rushed onto the farm, eager to help plant 15 trees for future generations to enjoy.
Dubbed “Plant it Forward,” by Cortez Parks Superintendant Mark Boblitt, the concept of planting trees for someone else to enjoy is taken from a 2000 film “Pay it Forward,” about doing favors in the hope that it will be passed on.
“Anyone know when the best time to plant a tree is?” Boblitt asked the students. “Thirty years ago. The second best time is today.”
Participating schools included Mesa Elementary, Manaugh Elementary, Kemper Elementary, Lewis-Arriola Elementary, Dolores Elementary and Mancos Elementary.
Sponsored by local banks, winners in a student poster contest received money, gift certificates and/or an Osprey backpack. Winning posters will be on display at the Cortez Recreation Center for the month of May.
Established in 2011, and boosted by a grant from the Colorado Tree Coalition, the Cortez’s award-winning tree farm allows saplings to grow large and strong enough to be transplanted into parks around the city. The farm utilizes drip irrigation and mulch chipped from city tree prunings.
City officials believe this practice saves thousands of dollars annually.
This is the city’s 20th year under the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” designation.
Reach Reid Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org