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Arbor Day celebrated on base

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Arbor Day was celebrated March 30 in the courtyard of the Riptide Fitness Center with a tree planting ceremony.

“More than 1,000 trees were destroyed on base in the past few years,” said Phillip Pruitt, 16th Civil Engineer Squadron. “The hurricanes devastated our tree population, and we’re trying to revive it.”

Col. Paul Harmon, 16th Special Operations Wing vice commander and Lt. Col. Victor Manges, 16th Mission Support Group deputy commander, shoveled dirt to plant the first of more than 200 trees that will be transplanted around Hurlburt Field.

Mr. Pruitt also said that Hurlburt Field is now celebrating its 11th year as Tree City status with the National Arbor Day Foundation and National Association of State Foresters. Six of the 11 years, Hurlburt Field won the Arbor Day Foundation Growth Award.

According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, four standards must be met for a town or community in order to be granted Tree City status.

The four standards assert that a tree board or department must be established to develop a comprehensive tree management program. Second, a tree care ordinance is the second step, in which a written tree work plan is established. Third, a community forestry program has to be set up with a budget that will care for the tree resources. The final step is an Arbor Day observance and proclamation must be held in the town or community. A simple tree planting, as done on Hurlburt Field, or a week-long observation is obligatory.

The benefit for becoming established as a Tree City is financial according to the foundation.

The National Arbor Day Foundation Web site states that preference is given to Tree City communities over others when allocations of federal or state grant money are made for trees or forestry programs. The money is then allocated to purchasing more trees, maintenance and upkeep.

“We’re hoping to have the 200 trees planted around the base and housing areas within the next four weeks,” said Mr. Pruitt.