(The Picket) On April 23, Beta Beta Beta and the Shepherd Environmental Organization teamed up with the Cacapon Institute to plant trees in celebration of the sixth annual Shepherd Arbor Day.
Dozens showed up, including faculty, students, and community members, to get their hands dirty and help with the planting over by the soccer field on West Campus.
The trees planted included a variety of non-invasive species given to the university through the Cacapon Institute’s West Virginia Project CommuniTree. CommuniTree is aimed at promoting “tree plantings on public land through volunteerism and education in the Potomac Headwaters of West Virginia,” according to the Cacapon Institute’s website.
Present at the planting was Tanner Haid, an urban watershed forester with the Cacapon Institute. Haid’s job is to assess and improve tree canopy in the Potomac headwaters of West Virginia. This includes the eight counties that make up the Eastern Panhandle, all the way from Harpers Ferry up to the Potomac’s source at Fairfax Stone.
Many of the volunteers already had experience at previous tree plantings, but Haid provided valuable instruction to first timers on how to properly plant a young tree without killing it. The trees used were young, but old enough that they have a high chance of growing to full size, unlike a brand new seedling.
Trees are important to forests and rivers for a number of reasons. They provide habitat complexity and many places for animals to live and interact. Canopy cover provides shade to help regulate the temperature of the forest floor and river, as well as provide a source of nutrients in the form of leaf fall and seeds. The roots of trees and other vegetation also help to hold soil together to prevent erosion and also filter out harmful pollutants from making into rivers.
Haid said that since 2012, the CommuniTree program has held 107 tree planting events with over 7,500 volunteers to plant 3,500 trees across the Panhandle.
Since 2011 Shepherd students have planted over 100 trees through the program.