On Arbor Day last Friday, members of the Village of New Paltz Shade Tree Commission planted three cherry trees in the Peace Park at Village Hall (Lauren Thomas)

The Village of New Paltz celebrated Arbor Day last Friday with members and volunteers of the Shade Tree Commission planting hundreds of donated trees. The project was evidence that New Paltz is on its way to once again being designated as a Tree City USA. “It’s a distinction of honor for the community,” said commission member Joe Ruotolo. “And it enables us to take pride in tree stewardship while supporting our natural ecosystems.”
Armed with shovels and mulch, members of the commission met last Friday at the Peace Park to dig holes for three cherry trees — a Balaton, a Black Gold and a Jubileum (donated by village trustee and SUNY New Paltz Environmental Task Force liaison Ariana Basco. Also lending a hand was New York State Department of Environmental Conservation senior forester George Profous, who brought with him 100 pussy willow and hazelnut seedlings to be planted by volunteers along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail later in the day.
Following the tree planting, a community event co-sponsored by the SUNY Environmental Task Force was held in Hasbrouck Park. It featured local speakers, poetry and live music. Local naturalist and educator Rich Parisio was on hand to lead participants through a tree identification walk and public tree-planting project in the village. The event also included educational activities and craft making for kids, as well as information about tree planting sponsorships for New Paltz residents. For more info on the Tree City USA program, visit www.arborday.org. ++