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Posted on: February 22, 2021

Honor a loved one through Spearfish Memorial Tree Program

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New program provides living tribute to benefit present, future generations

SPEARFISH, SD – A new program through the Spearfish Parks and Recreation Department allows people to memorialize or honor a friend or loved one by planting a Memorial Tree within the City parks system.

Parks and Recreation Director Tyler Ehnes explained that in the past, the City offered memorial benches for people who wanted to memorialize their loved ones in the park system. Due to a lack of space, that program was discontinued several years ago. Because of the frequent requests for a program to memorialize loved ones, Parks staff brainstormed ways that would allow memorials and also improve the parks, and the Spearfish City Council approved the Memorial Tree Program on Feb. 16.

“A tree planted in someone’s memory is a living tribute that benefits present and future generations,” Ehnes said. “The Memorial Tree Program gives people a special way to memorialize and honor loved ones, and it also improves our urban forest by planting new, diversified trees within our parks system.”

Rex McDonald, Parks, Recreation, and Forestry superintendent, and staff developed the program in conjunction with the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Advisory Board. 

“We want these Memorial Trees to keep providing benefits to the community year after year, so we included requirements in the program for tree species, planting locations, etc., to help ensure the health and wellbeing of the urban forest,” McDonald said. 

The list of approved planting locations considers tree proximity to permanent structures, overhead powerlines, underground utilities, lines of sight, plans for future areas of development, park usage, soil type, etc., to help avoid future hazards as the trees grow. Locations are available in all City parks, sports complexes, along the rec path, Rose Hill Cemetery, City Campground, and Spearfish Recreation and Aquatics Center. 

The program also includes a list of approved Memorial Tree species, based on a variety of factors, including hardiness, reliability of available stock, and maintenance of species diversity in the urban canopy. 

Those wishing to participate in the program have the option of planting the Memorial Tree in the spring or the fall. The trees are planted by Parks and Recreation staff, with the option for interested participants to be involved. Once the trees are planted, they will be maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department, which includes regular watering on an as-needed basis, mulching, staking, caging, pruning, and weeding around the planting site. Memorial Trees are guaranteed for one year from the date of planting and will be replaced with a similar tree, at no cost to the participant, should the original tree fail to thrive.

Participants may choose to add a personalized “leaf” on a Memorial Tree Plaque with the name of the person in whose memory the tree was placed or who/what organization planted the tree. They also have the option to identify the tree on the City of Spearfish Tree Inventory. All participants receive a Certificate of Participation that documents the Memorial Tree, its date of planting, etc.

There is a one-time fee to participate in the Memorial Tree program, which will be determined annually by the City Finance Office, to cover the cost of the tree, labor, materials and equipment required for planting, etc. 

“We hope this program will allow people to honor their loved ones with a gift to increase the natural beauty of our landscapes and enrich our community for years to come,” McDonald said.

For more information about the Memorial Tree Program, its requirements, and the application process, visit this link or call (605) 717-1142.

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