Arboretum possible for Carson City's Mills Park

Mills Park could soon be home to the area's first arboretum.

The east end of the park is about to undergo $180,000 in development including the addition of new turf and irrigation. Part of that money, plus $20,000 of residential construction tax, is for the addition of trees in Mills Park.

City Park Planner Vern Krahn said a recent brainstorming session brought up the idea of using the development in the park to create an arboretum, which is "a place for the study and exhibition of trees."

The Carson City Shade Tree Council on Thursday decided the idea was worth designing and including in the planned park improvements.

"That's our job: trees. The more the better," said Sally Zola, council chairwoman. "We were pleased with the educational emphasis that could enhance the science programs in our local schools.

"It's going to beautify the park a little bit more, provide education, and it's not going to take anything away from the benefits of Mills Park. It's a win-win."

Scott Fahrenbruch, Carson City park superintendent, said the idea also has to be approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission at its July meeting.

"The tree arboretum would be a good, educational experience for people who visit the park," Fahrenbruch said. "The thing we have to be careful of is to make sure the trees don't take up a lot of usable open space in the park used for events."

Krahn said over the past six years the parks department has removed 74 trees from the park for safety reasons. The cottonwood trees in the park provide a beautiful canopy, but eventually they will die or will have to be removed, he said. Replacing the trees now will help preserve the canopy. The idea is to plant 120 trees in the park over time, arranging groves in functional locations to provide shade and a somewhat self-guided educational tour, Krahn said, without overtaking the open space in the park.

Groves could be planted by tree species and would have markers.

Zola said the arboretum would also be a place for people to find trees that grow well in the area.

"Personally, I like the fact that there will be different types of tree species," she said. "People could use that information to buy different kinds of trees for their homes."

With approval from the parks commission, an arboretum task force will be formed to deal with the tree selection and placement. Improvements to Mills Park's east side are expected to get under way this fall, Fahrenbruch said.


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