The first fruits of the long-term lease for the Bishop City Park will be celebrated this week with the ground breaking of a long-awaited arboretum.
The arboretum will represent the ecosystems and flora of the area – the Sierra Nevada, the valley floor and the White-Inyo Range.
In conjunction with the statewide Arbor Week, March 7-14, the city plans to celebrate with a formal dedication of the Children’s Christmas Tree, a 16-foot Giant Sequoia that will serve as the gateway to the arboretum, or tree museum.
Community Services Director Keith Caldwell said the arboretum will serve as an educational tool and display of what can and does grow in the wide array of climates of the Owens Valley.
Visitors to the arboretum will be able to pick up an accompanying color flier featuring photos for identifying the trees in both summer and winter stages.
The arboretum will be a “snapshot” of what grows in the three diverse ecosystems in the area, Caldwell said, from the semi-coniferous Sierra, the rocky and hot valley floor to the high-desert White Mountain range. Caldwell explained that each system will be complete with native plants, trees and rocks of that area.
The mini-ecosystems will be a way for people to see what they can visit or what they won’t have a chance to until next time.
Caldwell explained that the arboretum idea is part of the City Park Master Plan, with ideas for the tree museum and events coming from the Bishop Tree Committee.
The committee is credited with the snapshot idea, Caldwell explained, and with some other marketing projects, such as a calendar.
Caldwell said the city and the committee will begin asking the public for photographs of trees at the park and asking kids for poems and essays on the park, trees or nature. He said the best 13 of both will be chosen and published in a 2012 calendar. All proceeds will go toward the arboretum.
“Trees play an important role in our cities energy conservation, wildlife habitat, protecting and purifying our water supply, air quality and are a valuable economic asset,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell also said the arboretum project is being done without any city funds – it is all donation-driven. He said there have been personal donations of trees as well as trees from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Bishop Nursery and Chalfant Big Trees.
Both Rotary Clubs of Bishop and the Slager Sunset Foundation are among the many donors that deserve thanks for their monetary support, Caldwell said.
Caldwell explained the statewide celebration is also to recognize pioneering botanist Luther Burbank.
The dedication of the Children’s Christmas Tree will be from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, March 13. The dedication ceremony will be at 2.
For more information about the week and planting tips, go to www.californiareleaf.org , or www.arborweek.org .
For more information about the celebration or the calendar go to www.ca-bishop.us/  or call (760) 873-5863.