On Earth Day, we pause to celebrate and join together to talk about conservation and ways to help our community and our planet. For Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation, Earth Day isn’t just one day a year, but instead maintaining the outdoors and helping save energy is thought about and worked on 365 days a year.
On Tuesday, a small crowd of roughly 50 people gathered in Etowah Park to celebrate the donation and planting of 17 trees. International Paper donated the trees in part to help with the loss of several tress during the ongoing gas-line project, but also to help give back to the community. International Paper plans to donate 15 trees a year over the next four years.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to donate these trees to Etowah Park and other opportunities to help out the local parks and improve them for the community,” Kevin Walls from International Paper said during the ceremony. “International Paper recognizes that sustainable forestry is the foundation to our business. We need to keep planting trees, so we appreciate this opportunity to plant these trees.”
The Tuesday ceremony kicked off a week-long Earth Day celebration in Rome with several events coordinated with Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful, including a talk on the importance of water sheds at Lock and Dam Park on Wednesday, free recycling audits on Thursday, special Earth Day hours at the ECO Center and a celebration of trails at the GE Trails on Saturday.
This was the third tree-planting ceremony at a local park over the past year, as in early 2020 a group gathered to celebrate the planting of 13 trees in Parks Hoke Park and in February of this year a group gathered in Tolbert Park to celebrate the planting of 14 trees. Those plantings along with the one celebrated on Tuesday at Etowah Park have added 44 new trees to those three parks in roughly a year’s time.
“We’re happy to have the partnership with International Paper and their help in restoring the trees throughout the county parks,” says Todd Wofford. “We lose trees each year to storms and old age, and it’s great to have someone else in the community who really wants to help ensure that our parks have growing, healthy trees.”
Along with the tree-planting program, Parks and Recreation partnered with Georgia Power to begin replacing old lights at all parks and facilities with cost-saving and energy efficient LED lighting. All of the scoreboards at Upper Alto Park were changed over to LED scoreboards last year and our 29-plus parks and facilities are in the process of getting the lighting upgrade.
The LED lights cut down on power consumption and have a much longer life span before needing to be replaced. The newer lights will save money and electricity while providing plenty of light in the evenings.
It’s not just about trees and lights though as several of our parks serve as special pollinator meadows with special flowers and plants in plots encouraging bees, insects and other wildlife to flourish locally. Of course, Parks and Recreation staff also maintain all of the parks and facilities on a daily basis, giving the Rome and Floyd County community plenty of great places to experience the outdoors.
“It’s not just about mowing the grass and weed eating at our parks and facilities,” Wofford says. “We want to ensure our parks are clean and healthy with greats trees and wildlife for now and for future generations. Our hope is that we can be good stewards and our kids and their kids will be able to enjoy them.”