Arbor Day was celebrated in the Black Hills Wednesday, May 20, with more than 120 third- and fourth-grade Lead-Deadwood Elementary School students rolling up their sleeves, digging in the dirt and sprucing up the banks of Whitewood Creek and the grounds of the new Days of ’76 Museum.
Sponsored by the Deadwood Tree Board and the Lead-Deadwood Area Lions Club, the foresters project aims to observe Arbor Day, revitalize America’s forests and teach students about the importance of their natural surroundings, said Tree Board Chairman JoAnn Eastman.
“This project by the Tree Board and the local Lions addresses some of the devastation along Whitewood Creek that occurred in Storm Atlas, as well as sprucing up the grounds of the new museum,” Eastman said. “Because of this support, there is no cost to the students, the teachers or the schools.”
The theme for Arbor Day, delayed in Deadwood by early May snowstorms, is “Trees are Terrific… in Cities and Towns,” Eastman noted. She also said that this is the 22nd year that Deadwood had received designation as “Tree City USA.”
“Lions Club members live and work in this community,” said Club President Sharon Martinisko. “We’re happy to provide nearly 200 saplings to students to regenerate some growth that we lost along the creek in last fall’s blizzard.”
The event included unveiling of winners of an Arbor Day artwork contest conducted at Lead-Deadwood Elementary School.
Festivities were conducted at the Days of ’76 Museum grounds. The project also is supported by Deadwood Historic Preservation, the City of Deadwood and its parks department, Eastman said.
"We are grateful to the Deadwood Tree Board and the local Lions Club for again choosing the Days of '76 Museum as this year's site to plant trees,” said Mary Kopco, executive director of Deadwood History Inc., which manages the museum. “Arbor Day is the perfect time to teach our youth about the important role trees have played both in Deadwood's past and present."
In addition to planting a large Arbor Day tree on the museum grounds, dozens of foot-tall Norway spruce saplings were planted along the creek or were sent home with students to plant in their yards, Martinisko said.
“Arbor Day gives us an opportunity to instill pride in our community and replace what was lost during our harsh winter,” Eastman added. “It also teaches our youngest residents about the importance of preserving our forests and beautifying our towns.”