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The Tree Bank Foundation has made Oklahoma leafier since 1987



At the next baby shower, donate a tree in the newborn's name. It's a unique, lasting, natural gift possible through The Tree Bank Foundation. Besides, in one year, a single mature tree can absorb as much carbon as a car produces when it is driven 26,000 miles. That's green.

Public spaces remain green, thanks to the TBF. The nonprofit works to assist groups across the state, from neighborhood associations to schools, wishing to plant new trees. The organization also helps replace trees that have suffered storm damage. Since its executive director is the only employee, the Oklahoma City-based TBF relies on volunteers, donations and partnerships.

"This past planting season, I worked with more than two dozen groups," said Mary Gilmore Caffrey, executive director. "Each had its own volunteer group."

In 2009, Oklahoma has had two federally declared disasters due to destructive weather; a third disaster was related to fire. Caffrey estimated that $10 million worth of trees was lost in the devastating 2007 ice storm, and since then, the state has had additional storms. So, she explained, with the uncertain economic times which are affecting all nonprofits, "we do need donations to keep our doors open."

One recently completed project is the Margaret Annis Boys Centennial Arboretum in Bickham-Rudkin Park in Edmond. Along a winding walkway are trees and shrubs with identification labels. Funded by a grant from The Oklahoma City Community Foundation, the arboretum will provide learning opportunities about tree selection and care. This follows the TBF mission to "educate the public and build a stronger sense of community through the promotion, development and management of urban forestry projects with public and private partners."

From the Air National Guard to the Girl Scouts, TBF is founded in partnerships.

One major partnership is with the Apache Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Apache Corporation, an independent oil and gas exploration and production company based in Houston. Since spring 2008, the Apache Foundation has given the TBF more than 62,000 trees and 74,000 seedlings to distribute. 

"It is an incredible donation," Caffrey said. "That's been our big effort this past planting season."

In the metro, three Great OKC Tree Give-Away events have been held. During one event, the community also received drip irrigation bags, donated by Chesapeake Energy. At each event, information was given about the trees, such as watering and fertilization.

"We've had wonderful responses from the community," said Aubrey Hammontree, an urban planner with the city of Oklahoma City. "All in all, we've given away 3,000 trees."

Oklahoma's green spaces have thrived because of the Apache Foundation's gift.

"(We) set a goal in 2005 to give away 1 million trees," said Castlen Moore Kennedy, executive director of the Apache Foundation Tree Grant Program. "We celebrated giving away the one-millionth tree this past April. With the new goal to give away 2 million trees, we want to pace ourselves and spread out the plan over five years."

For more information, call 330-4701.  "Gina Dabney

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