Terry Washington, Chaney, John A. | 4/26/2005 12:17:10 AM
LONG LEAF – 4-H Club members, 4-H leaders and representatives of other organizations volunteered to jump start Arbor Day celebrations in Louisiana by planting trees, flowers and making improvements to the Native Grove Trail Jan. 10 at the historic Southern Forest Heritage Museum in this community near Alexandria.
The event marked the sixth year representatives of the LSU AgCenter and a variety of other groups have come together at the museum to hold an Arbor Day Kickoff celebration. Arbor Day is celebrated in Louisiana Jan. 16.
During Saturday’s events, Terry Washington, an extension agent with Southern University who works in cooperation with the LSU AgCenter, began the day by demonstrating how to plant a Savanna Holly so volunteers would know the appropriate techniques to use as they planted trees on the museum grounds during the kickoff celebration or in other locations throughout the year.
"It is important to dig a hole in the ground two times the size of the root mass on the tree and to loosen soil around the hole," Washington explained. "Then place the tree in the hole – being careful to avoid planting it too deep. The tree should be transplanted to keep the roots at the same level in the soil where they were before the plant was lifted in the nursery."
Washington explained that, by properly placing trees in the landscape near the home, you can create an environment that is comfortable and affordable.
The AgCenter expert recommends planting deciduous trees – trees that lose their leaves in the winter – on the eastern, southern and western sides of the house. These trees will shade the home in the warm seasons and then drop leaves during the cool season to allow the sunshine to warn the home.
Evergreen trees should be planted on the northern side of the home to offer a wind break.
"Following the recommended energy guidelines will help reduce the heating and cooling cost of your home for many years," said Washington.
During this weekend’s activities at the Forestry Museum, youth volunteers planted flowers near the buildings, planted shrubs and trees near the Native Grove Trail and resurfaced the walking path of the Native Grove Trail to make it wheelchair accessible.
"Planting trees and plants at the museum is fun," said Jane Petrus, a former 4-H member and student at Louisiana Tech University.
Sonie Milton of the Forest Heritage Museum said the facility is located in the heart of the state’s nursery and forest industries, so it provides an excellent place to celebrate Arbor Day.
Youth participating in events like this learn many life skills such as citizenship, leadership and cooperation, Washington stressed.
The forest industry is the largest agricultural industry in the state, and the nursery industry is the largest agricultural industry in Rapides Parish, according to the 2002 Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources published by the LSU AgCenter.
Officials say the continued development of an arboretum at the Forest Heritage Museum will provide an opportunity for visitors to study trees and select plants they wish to purchase from local nurseries for their landscapes.
The museum is located at an historic sawmill complex, which operated from 1892 to 1969 in Long Leaf – between Forest Hill and Glenmora.
For more information on the museum, visit its Web site at www.forestheritagemuseum.org. For more information on opportunities available through 4-H or other programs operated by the LSU AgCenter, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Sponsors for the Arbor Day Kickoff included the LSU AgCenter, Southern Forest Heritage Museum, Louisiana Forestry Association, Central Louisiana Nurserymen's Association, Southern University AgCenter, Louisiana Office of Forestry, Central Louisiana Electric Co., Boy Scouts of America and other community groups in the area.