News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 18, 2013

Earth Day activities abound as Terre Haute again gains Tree City designation

TERRE HAUTE — Riding a bicycle is not just about saving the planet. For some, it’s about saving cash as well.

“For me, it’s more about the benefits to my wallet and my health than it is about the benefits to the environment,” said Caroline Savage, assistant director of the Institute for Community Sustainability at Indiana State University.

Savage, whoa said she rides her bike almost daily from her home on the city’s east side to her job at ISU, was among the more than two dozen people who pedaled across Terre Haute on Wednesday with Mayor Duke Bennett as part of ISU’s Earth Day Celebration.

“Terre Haute is so flat, really, unless there’s ice, you can bike all over the city,” said Savage, who moved here from upstate New York, where hills are the norm. “And, riding a bike saves gas and time finding parking.”

Mayor Bennett said he hopes more city residents will trade their car keys for bike helmets when traveling around the city, which now boasts 36 miles of planned and developed walking/biking trails. Additional trails are also in the works.

“I’m proud of how many miles we have for a city of 60,000,” Bennett said prior to the start of the 3.5-mile ride from Memorial Stadium along the National Road Heritage Trail that runs from East Glen to the ISU campus.

“I’d like to see us be a healthier community, and we have a great trail system,” he said.

The ride began at the west side of Memorial Stadium, with cyclists following the Indiana mile trail before connecting with the Heritage Trail near Locust Street and following it for a 3.5-mile point-to-point route ending at the fountain on the ISU campus.

Once at ISU, where a third annual Earth Day celebration was to commence on the grassy quad south of Stalker Hall, the mayor announced that Terre Haute has once again been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Division of Forestry for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Terre Haute received the Growth Award, which notes a higher standard of excellence for urban forestry management.

City forester Sheryle Dell told the Tribune-Star that the city has definitely grown during the past year in improving the environment for trees in the community. For the first time, two temporary employees were hired to water trees last summer during the drought. The city engineering department also partnered with the sanitation department to build a watering truck for the trees.

The city also adopted national standards on tree risk assessment, developed and opened Maple Avenue Nature Park, and spent more than $500,000 on tree care and maintenance.

To achieve Tree City USA status, a community must draft and pass a public tree care ordinance, designate a municipal department and tree advisory committee, spend at least $2 per capita for the tree care program and have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

ISU was also honored during its Arbor Day event as one of four Tree Campuses in the state. Tree campuses must have a campus tree advisory committee, a tree care plan, a tree care program with suggested dedicated annual expenditures of $3 per enrollee, an Arbor Day observance and a service learning project.

First-year graduate student Steven Flowers, who is also the sustainability intern for the mayor’s office, said the ISU Earth Day program grows each year, and the campus community is in tune with living healthier lifestyles.

At one of the many booths on campus Wednesday, students could sample a pesto made from dandelion greens. The grounds crew picked the greens on Tuesday, Flowers said, and Sodexo food service prepared them in the pesto.

“I tried it, and it was very good,” Flowers said.

Local farmers also shared homegrown food crops while other groups presented sustainable living activities.

Mayor Bennett shared that the city will be participating in community Earth Day activities next week as well.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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