By Scott Prater
As Antwaan Hines and Callie Hansen shoveled dirt over the roots of a flowering crab tree June 19, Colorado State Forest Service assistant district forester Andy Schlosberg, proclaimed Schriever Air Force Base a Tree City USA community.
On a calm, warm sunny morning, more than 100 children witnessed the event where Hines and Hansen, child development center students, assisted Col. Brian Barthel, 50th Mission Support Group commander, in planting the tree outside Schriever’s CDC.
“Unlike most celebrations, today we gather to celebrate what is going to be, rather than what has already occurred,” Schlosberg said. “This planting signifies Schriever’s commitment to maintaining the trees in its community forest.”
Measuring more than 12-feet high and five inches wide at its base, the flowering crab tree provides much needed shade to the lawn area on the south side of the CDC.
“Trees can reduce the erosion of our precious top soil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling cost, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide a habitat for wild life,” Barthel said. “Trees are a renewable resource, giving us paper, wood for homes, fuel for our fires and countless other products. They also beautify our base and provide a source of spiritual renewal.”
Though Arbor Day is traditionally recognized during April, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight chief, Andy Jenkins, scheduled the Arbor Day tree planting for June because weather is typically more pleasant at Schriever in the summer time.
“Today is a beautiful day, which has not always been the case in past years when we’ve planted in April,” Jenkins said. “Ultimately, the children on base get the most out of the Arbor Day ceremony, so it’s important that we have a nice day, where everyone can enjoy the experience.”
Barthel, who accepted Schriever’s 16th National Arbor Foundation Tree City USA award, explained that including children in the tree-planting effort and Arbor Day recognition is important for the community.
“We need to do this right and teach our children how to care for our Earth so they can carry the torch for the next generation,” he said.
Following the ceremony, Jensen provided blue spruce and white pine saplings to CDC students for planting elsewhere.
“If every student goes home and plants a tree with their family members, we’ll have another 150 trees growing in the Colorado Springs area,” Barthel said. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Arbor Day.”