The Town of Thurmont Streets and Parks Department, the Thurmont Green Team, the Frederick County Forest Conservancy Board, the Maryland Forest Service, and approximately twenty additional volunteers gathered together on November 5, 2016, for a tree planting project in Thurmont Community Park. Thurmont’s Community Park is located on a 24-acre site on Frederick Road. The park is a picturesque oasis of towering trees, providing a shaded place to play, a walk-on-the-level path that winds through the park, a gathering spot in one of the pavilions, or a rest to enjoy nature’s beauty. The park is a hub for the annual Catoctin Colorfest, which attracts up to 100,000 visitors on the second weekend in October each year. Halloween in the Park, the Lions’ Club Easter Egg Hunt, and a holiday lights display are some of the other popular events that are held in the park each year.
The park is well cared for and beloved by the local community, but its trees are being impacted by the invasive emerald ash borer that is devastating ash trees in the United States. The Maryland Forest Service evaluated the park in the winter of 2016, and found a high percentage of the trees in the park are ash and very susceptible to the borer.
Through additional field work, partnerships, and designated funding, the town developed a plan to manage this threat to the very popular park. High-risk trees are currently being removed, healthy ash have been treated to protect from borer attacks, and a variety of other trees are being planted.
Twenty-five trees were planted in locations throughout the park, paying particular attention to areas where trees were lost and where shade trees would create a more pleasant environment for park visitors. Areas near playgrounds and near the heavily used exercise trail were identified as areas where more shade is needed. The trees planted were a native mix of serviceberry, red maple, hackberry, and pin oak, that will mature to provide shade and many environmental services to the community.
It was important to plant a diversity of tree species to reduce the risk of such a devastating event like the emerald ash borer in the future from impacting the park and town resources so extensively. Many hands made easy and satisfying work of the planting. The Thurmont Streets & Parks personnel provided trucks to haul the trees, necessary tools, water, and mulch for the trees to have a strong start in their new locations.
Many young persons enjoyed the effort and did their share of the work while learning how to properly plant the potted trees. Instructions were provided by Maryland Forest Service Forester Becky Wilson, who also supervised the progress of the project. A biodegradable tree shelter was installed around each tree to prevent damage by weed eaters, deer, and rabbits. The trees were provided by the Maryland Forest Service through the TreeMendous Maryland program.
The Thurmont mayor and commissioners read a proclamation at their November 1 meeting, declaring November 5 as Arbor Day in Thurmont. The mayor and commissioners decided some time ago to be proactive in the fight against the emerald ash borer and to begin an extensive program to save as many trees as possible, while planting new trees to replace the ones lost. Plans are already in place to host another tree planting project in the spring. In addition, the mayor and commissioners are implementing a “Donor Tree” program, allowing residents to purchase a tree to be planted in the park to recognize a loved one.
Maryland Forest Service Forester Becky Wilson demonstrates the proper technique to plant the new trees, while young Emmet Euliano (far left) assists. Steve Parsons (back, left), Elsa Parsons (far right), Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick (taking pictures), and additional volunteers learn the technique before planting trees throughout the Community Park.