by: contributed photo Several children plant a tree in honor of National Arbor Week and to recognize many efforts across the country to reforest our urban areas.

The city of Sandy is bringing trees to the people - literally.

It is now Arbor Week across the nation (April 1-7), and Sandy is celebrating that fact by giving free street trees to qualified residents.

City staff will be stationed outside the First Saturday Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at the AEC Building, 39085 Pioneer Blvd. They'll have activities for kids and offer information about caring for trees and pruning them. They'll also be taking applications for free, ball-and-burlap street trees. Residents will be visited later for an evaluation of each proposed street-side planting.

After signing an agreement with the city, residents' responsibilities are limited to planting and watering the tree for a few years - until the roots are established - and pruning it when necessary.

'The type of trees we're selecting (for street-side plantings),' Brown said, 'are fairly low-maintenance trees. They won't require a lot of pruning.'

This tree gift for Sandy residents is one of the ways the city increases its tree canopy, educates people about the benefits trees provide to our way of life and helps qualify the city once more for the 'Tree City USA' award.

Sandy has received that award each year since 2005. The award for 2011 hasn't yet been delivered to the city, but staff has received word that the city was approved. Sandy was one of 54 cities in the state to pass the muster and earn the title for 2011.

The Tree City USA award recognizes cities that conduct an identified series of activities that promote the care and planting of trees. The award is a program of the National Arbor Day Foundation and is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Among the criteria to qualify for the award, said Planning Director Tracy Brown, are such activities as a proclamation of Arbor Week, a public tree planting event, a tree advisory board and a protective tree ordinance.

Cities also must spend at least $2 for each person living in the city to protect, plant and care for the city's tree canopy.

In some previous years during Arbor Week, the city planted trees in public places, mainly city parks. But this year, according to Engineering Technician Liz Storn, the city might plant some trees in the fall.

'That way we won't have to worry about watering them through the summer,' she said.

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