Determined to safeguard green space in an era of rapid development, officials in Hampstead and Manchester are seeking to raise public awareness of the environment with Arbor Day celebrations.
The events -- including today's planting of four 15-foot shade trees in downtown Hampstead and a visit to a plot of 800 smaller trees on the outskirts of town -- mark an environmental observance that dates back more than a century in parts of the country.
Neil Ridgely, Hampstead's town manager and coordinator of today's events, emphasized the importance of showing residents, particularly area youths "what life would be like without benefit of trees."
Arbor Day, which originated in Nebraska 124 years ago, is officially a celebration of the planting of trees, generally on the the last Friday of April, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation, based in Nebraska City.
It was begun by pioneers moving into the Nebraska Territory who saw the need for trees as windbreaks, fuel, building materials and shade.
Because "ideal" planting seasons vary geographically, states traditionally decide individually whether to observe Arbor Day in the late winter or early spring.
Such history is not lost on officials in Hampstead and Manchester, in a county where planning officials estimate that 1,800 acres of prime agricultural land is being lost to development annually.
In Hampstead today, Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and the town's tree commission were scheduled to oversee the 7: 30 a.m. planting of four 15-foot Zelkova shade trees in a municipal lot on West Street, near the post office.
Mr. Ridgely said four parking spaces recently were removed to prepare the site for the trees. The town expects to finish beautification of the West Street site -- about the size of a football field -- by the end of the summer, he said.
"We plan to construct a basketball court and put tot lot equipment in there," Mr. Ridgely said, "all paid for with state grant money from Program Open Space."
The planting of the four trees will be followed by a trip to Black Rock Road, on the outskirts of town, to inspect this week's planting of 800 "whips" at the Forest Conservation Bank, a treeless two-acre site near Lower Beckleysville Road.
Whips are trees grown from seedlings to a height of 2 to 3 feet for transplanting, Mr. Ridgely said.
Aside from the aesthetic and environmental benefits of such a project, the town could use the trees to assist with tree replacement in other areas, Mr. Ridgely said.
"If, for example, a large industry should move its operation into the community, the town could decide to assist in helping the business comply with its [landscaping] requirements," he said.
Such environmentally conscious projects will enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors, Mr. Ridgely said.
Manchester, 5 miles north of Hampstead on Route 30, will plant a baby white oak April 26 near its Nature Center.
The tree selected for the ceremonial planting was donated to the town by a local resident. It was grown from an acorn.
Pub Date: 4/03/96