Members of the Alta Trees Forever foundation are hoping residents of Alta will spend a little green this winter to make the city greener this spring, as the organization's 10th annual Adopt-A-Tree project starts this week in town.
The group has purchased 50 three to four-foot tall trees from Sherman Nursery in Charles City for residents to buy and place in either their own yards or elsewhere around the city.
Jim Eaton, a member of the Trees Forever organization, said the program, which began a decade ago, has received a positive response from Altans in the past, and hopes the same type of enthusiasm will be displayed in 2002.
"We were one of the first towns in the area to start a program like this, and it's really been a tremendous success," Eaton said. "There have been a lot of people who have adopted and planted trees around the city, and I'd say we've probably had about 50 to 100 trees planted in town each year. It's great to see, and we're looking for the same thing this year."
The nonprofit organization has received financial support from Altatec Utilities and Alliant Energy Corporation in order to purchase the trees from Sherman Nursery, which has provided the arboreous objects to the foundation at a special wholesale rate ever since the project's inception.
The trees, which Eaton said have a retail price of approximately $75 to $85, will be available for adoption for $10, and residents will be able to purchase the trees until April 15.
The trees, which are available in a variety of species, including white pine and Colorado blue spruce, will be potted and bagged beforehand to help keep them hydrated while they are stored in Alta.
Citizens can plant the trees on their properties or can designate a tree to be planted in a specific location around town, such as the city park, the fairgrounds or near the baseball diamonds on the southeast corner of town.
City Clerk Tom Huseman, who will help handle the tree adoption process, said he would be able to provide a large amount of information to people who are interested in purchasing one or more trees, including pictures of each species and additional literature and facts about the different types available this year.
"We can tell residents how big the different trees are, what type of soil they like, how big they grow, how to take care of them and any other specifics that they would want to know before adopting a tree," Huseman said. "We can also help them figure out where and how best to plant the trees. We're here to provide as many helpful hints and information about the trees as we can."
Huseman said the Alta Street Department will take care of the trees until the weather permits planting to commence in the spring, and the city will also tell residents where certain utility lines and pipes are located underneath their yards to make sure nothing is harmed during the digging process.
In previous years, Trees Forever was able to buy over 100 trees for planting purposes in Alta, but Eaton said the high quality of the foliage this year was a major factor in being able to secure only 50.
"Being three to four-foot pines, these trees are pretty expensive, and once you get into higher numbers, it gets more expensive," Eaton said. "We thought it was worth it to buy 50 trees, though, because these are really good trees. They're hardy and they should last for quite a while, so we think these 50 trees are going to be a positive thing for Alta to have in town."
The group also decided not to buy bareroot trees in 2002, primarily to give the plants a better chance to survive until being put in the ground in the spring.
"We've found out that bare root trees are harder to keep alive in a process like this," Eaton said. "It's a lot harder to try to keep them adequately watered and protected with the bare roots, so we decided that the potted trees would be a lot better from that standpoint. They're going to be easier to take care of until they are picked up and planted."
Both Eaton and Huseman said they are looking forward to a big response from the community, and invite Alta citizens to come into the City Hall to begin the tree-adoption process.
"Anybody can just call here or come in and sign up for this," Huseman said. "We'd like to see all of those trees be planted this spring in Alta."