Tree cities celebrate Arbor Day

NORCROSS - Robert Patrick II likes to climb trees, so his father thought Arbor Day would be a good time for him to watch as one was planted.

The elder Patrick, who works in Norcross' community development department, brought his 2-year-old son to the city's first Arbor Day celebration as it commemorated its third year as a Tree City USA.

"It's a good opportunity to spend some time together," Patrick said. "He likes trees to begin with, especially climbing them, so seeing them being planted is a good thing."

The city planted two southern magnolias in a ceremony Friday. Norcross Mayor Lillian Webb said they were setting a path for the city's future.

But Webb said the city has always been committed to the environment. In a council race in 1974, she handed out 300 red cedar saplings with her name on them in lieu of campaign fliers; another year saw potential voters getting Dogwoods.

Many of the trees were planted and are still visible around Norcross, she said.

"My little trees went a long way," Webb said. "It's a legacy for our young and our old and our little bitty ones. It's meaningful because trees outlive all of us."

Dale Higdon, a senior forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission, said Gwinnett has more tree cities than any other metro-Atlanta county. Those cities are Norcross, Suwanee, Duluth, Snellville and Berkeley Lake.

In addition to the shade they provide, Higdon said trees are important for their stormwater benefits. People often move to an area because of the beauty of its trees, he said.

Former city councilman Josh Bare's company, Skinner Nurseries, donated the trees. Bare said he relishes the chance to help the city plan for its future.

"Americans are so busy living today that they forget about setting up for tomorrow," he said, motioning toward the woods at Norcross' South Point Park. "Someone had to have the foresight to plant it a long time ago. There's nothing like a beautiful tree."