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A Tree-mendous Effort

A Hialeah park was the beneficiary of several new tree plantings, which will provide shade and a habitat for birds and other animals.

Special to The Miami Herald
Surfing on the Web, Abel Deandreis, 17, received an e-mail invitation he couldn’t turn down in the wee hours of Saturday.

Abel had been invited to participate in the fourth annual TREEmendous Day at Slade Park in Hialeah.

“I like landscaping,’’ said Abel, who is attending Miami-Dade College’s Hialeah campus and Mater Lakes Academy in Miami Lakes. “It is my favorite volunteer work.’’

With little sleep, Abel joined about a hundred volunteers from Miami-Dade College, local high schools and from the community to plant native trees and shrubs at the park, 2501 W. 74th St., on Saturday. Girl Scouts from Troop 436 and Boy Scouts from Troop 591 also participated.

The City of Hialeah, Miami-Dade College and the non-profit Citizens for a Better South Florida, which provided about 20 shrubs and nine gumbo limbo and oak trees, sponsored the event. The Department of Forestry and the Department of Environmental Resources Management (D.E.R.M.) provided the trees.

Gloria Antia, community forestry director for Citizens for a Better South Florida, said the green initiative teaches children the value of trees.

“This is an educational program that teaches volunteers why planting trees is crucial,’’ she said. “Miami Dade County has a low tree canopy; it is like 12 percent compared to 30 percent in other cities.’’

Under a hot spring sun, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina rolled up his sleeves to shovel dirt.

“The trees make the city look much, much nicer,’’ he said.

The trees were planted throughout the park. The scouts helped out at the butterfly garden.

Cecilia Diaz watched her daughter, Savannah Diaz, 9, dig a hole.

“It’s good in general for the kids to get out of the house and get away from the video games,’’ Diaz said.

Trees in the butterfly garden included Jamaica capers, wild coffee and milkweeds.

“This is crucial and important for the community,’’ said Antia. “We are inviting the community to better their parks.’’

Staffers from the Hialeah Parks and Recreation Department pre-dug the holes. Volunteers planted the trees, laid dirt and watered the native species. To cool off, snacks and refreshments were available. It was the first time the event was held at the park. In previous years, trees had been planted at the nearby Hialeah Middle School.

Kelly Altosino-Sastre, chief executive officer of Citizens For A Better South Florida, said the effort would roughly cost about $5,000 including material and manpower.

Abel plans to one day return to see the final product.

“It makes you feel good,” he said. “You can always see the results later.”

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