(Temple) – Saturday, October 16, the Temple Parks & Leisure Services Department will be giving away free trees to residents. The A Tree for Me program aims to fill every Temple neighborhood with tree-lined streets like that of the city’s downtown historic district. To qualify, residents need only commit to planting the tree within the first 20 feet from their curb.
“This is the fourth year we have offered the A Tree for Me program,” Parks & Leisure Services Director Ken Cicora said. “Each year we try and make it bigger and better.”
“This year we have eight varieties of trees to offer people,” City Arborist Val Roming said. “Whether someone is looking for a huge shade tree or a small ornamental, we have it.”
The program was originally offered in 2007 as part of a 2005 Texas Forestry Service grant that established the Temple Tree Farm.
“The Tree Farm has been a really great deal for us,” Roming said. “What it allows us to do is buy tiny nursery trees at low cost and grow them until they are large enough and strong enough to be planted in our parks.”
As part of the Texas Forestry grant, the Department was obligated to host three tree give-a-ways.
“Last year’s A Tree for Me was the last one that we had to do as part of that grant,” Cicora said. “At that time we got together in the Department and agreed that this was such a great event that we should continue to offer it to the Temple community.”
The program is open to all Temple residents.
“The only thing we ask is that the property owner agrees to having a tree planted within the first 20 feet from the curb in the front yard,” Cicora said. “That way we know these trees are being planted within the City right-of-way.”
“The other thing we want everyone to do when they apply for a tree is get their utility lines marked,” Roming said. “There is a free service people can contact at 1-800-DIG-TESS (344-8377). They will come out to your house and mark off the areas that are not safe for digging.”
Another factor applicants have to consider when selecting their tree is the layout of their yard.
“If you have power lines going over any part of your yard, we are not going to give you a tree that could end up posing a hazard down the line,” Roming said. “Instead, we will give you the choice of one of our smaller trees.”
Trees being given away as part of the A Tree for Me program include: Chinese Pistache, Bur Oak, Bald Cypress, Live Oak, Possumhaw Holly, Bed Bud, Red Oak and Lilac Chaste trees.
Most of the trees being given away as part of the program are large, a fact that event organizers hope will not be lost on applicants.
“These trees are definitely not small,” Roming said. “You probably won’t be able to fit even the small varieties into a car or SUV right now. We suggest that you bring either a pickup or a trailer that Saturday morning.”
“One of the things that I would encourage folks to do is work with their friends and neighbors,” Roming said. “We can definitely get multiple trees for different addresses onto the back of a single truck or trailer.”
Applications for the A Tree for Me program are available to be picked up at all Parks & Leisure Services facilities. They can also be downloaded from the Temple Trees website at TempleTrees.org. Once completed, these applications can be returned by fax, mail or in person to the Temple Parks & Leisure Services administration building (1909 Curtis B. Elliott Drive).
For more information about the A Tree for Me program, visit the Temple Tree page at TempleTrees.org, or call Marketing Coordinator James Stafford at (254) 771-4134.