Metro District celebrates Arbor Day

Local dojo helps plant four pines


Keeping with an area Arbor Day tradition, the Highlands Ranch Metro District forestry staff teamed up with a group of local youngsters to plant four bristlecone pines in Northridge Community Park this past week. While the type of tree, location and youngsters change with the year, one thing remains constant.

“Celebrating Arbor Day with education and getting the kids out is definitely what we are going for,” said Metro District forestry technician Caleb Palmer. “It’s good to get the kids out and digging in holes, and learning about some of the trees that are native to Colorado. Planting the right tree in the right place goes a long way in keeping our urban forest in check and looking good.”

The bristlecone pines that were planted April 26 were funded through a $6,000 grant received from the Xcel Energy Foundation/Colorado Tree Coalition. Bristlecone pines can live up to 1,500 years or more and, according to HRMD Natural Resources Manager Bill Dailey, are the oldest trees in the world.

The trees were planted adjacent to a recently relocated trash-bin shelter, improving the sightline for the park’s neighbors who no longer have to look at the bin.

For ATA Karate students, the experience was a learning one that tied right in with the natural approach of their dojo, as each belt ties in with the characteristic of a pine.

“Nature has always been at the foundation of martial arts,” said karate instructor Nick VanMatre. “The old masters would spend years observing and learning from the world around them, taking inspiration from nature. They would base techniques, stances, and forms from the movements of animals, trees and even storms.”

That wasn’t all that motivated VanMatre to rally some students together.

“Pretty much all of our students live in the Highlands Ranch area and take advantage of these beautiful parks,” he said. “It’s good for these kids to get out and have a chance to give back. … Right now kids are so disconnected from nature.”

For black-belt sisters Mackenzie Stuhlsatz, 11, and Cassidy Stuhlsatz, 13, it broadened their appreciation for nature.

“I’ve learned endurance, how to give back to the community and how to have fun while doing it,” Cassidy said.

For Mackenzie, it sent her on a trip down memory lane of when she was 4 and her family was planting trees and she was too young to help.

“I was so little back then and couldn’t do that much, and now I can and it just feels amazing,” she said. “I learned how to really care for a tree.”


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