Environment File

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Forest Lawn will be more forest and less lawn next Tuesday as hundreds of kids plant trees as part of Arbor Day.

About 440 Grade 1 students from nine St. Albert schools will be in Flagstone Park in Forest Lawn this June 2 to take part in St. Albert’s annual Arbor Day celebration.

Arbor Day is an international celebration that encourages people to care for trees and forests.

Trees improve our air quality, so it’s important that our kids know the importance of them, said Nicole Synowec, co-ordinator of the Arbor Day event.

Students will plant about 250 white spruce and 300 other seedlings in Flagstone Park to expand two existing tree stands by the park’s playground, Synowec said. They’ll also get to learn about trees, walk through a forest, decorate tree medallions, sing and dance with St. Albert entertainers Rooney and Punyi, and meet Sir Oliver, a great horned owl.

This is a closed event, so Synowec says only people who have registered for it should come.

The planting runs from 10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. this June 2. Call Synowec at 780-459-1755 ext. 3030 for details.

A St. Albert arborist hopes to round up a posse next Friday to try and run a mustard menace out of town.

Public works officials are holding a Weed Warrior event this June 5 in the Forest Lawn Ravine aimed at exterminating St. Albert’s population of garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard is a prohibited noxious weed in Alberta notorious for its ability to completely take over forest floors, crowding out native species. It’s found in only four spots in Alberta, one of which is the Forest Lawn Ravine.

“It’s probably the No. 1 invasive in eastern Canada,” said city arborist Kevin Veenstra, co-organizer of next week’s weed pull.

The city has known about the Forest Lawn infestation since 2010 and has been spraying and pulling it ever since.

Veenstra says the plant’s range is expanding (although it has yet to leave the ravine), but its density is on the decline. As research suggests that the seeds of this plant can live up to 10 years, it will likely be many years before the city sees the last of garlic mustard.

The plant itself is very obvious in winter and early spring, as it’s dark green year-round, Veenstra said.

“When you crush it, it’s garlic. The garlic smell comes out.”

Garlic mustard also has dark green, heart-shaped, scallop-edged leaves and clusters of four-petal white flowers.

Veenstra hopes to get about 50 volunteers to come to the Forest Drive entrance to the Forest Lawn Ravine at 1 p.m. this Friday to help pull weeds. City staff will provide the gloves and bags. Volunteers should wear long sleeves and pants.

The event runs until 3 p.m. Call public works at 780-459-1557 for details.

City residents can get free rides next Wednesday to help clean the air – but for the first time in almost a decade, they won’t have a shot at a free bus pass.

June 3 is Clean Air Day, and the City of St. Albert is once again offering free rides on all St. Albert Transit buses all day to celebrate.

Riders who show up early Wednesday morning at the St. Albert Centre or Village transit stations will also get free prizes such as lip balm and key-chains, said St. Albert Transit planning manager Will Steblyk.

Bus pass holders will also have a chance to win one of seven free passes.

Transportation accounts for 32 per cent of St. Albert’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the second biggest source of them after houses, the city’s greenhouse gas inventory reports.

Riding the bus reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 65 per cent compared to driving a car, St. Albert Transit reports.

***UPDATE*** A previous version of this story had Steblyk saying that there would not be a bus pass giveaway this year. Steblyk called the Gazette Monday to say he was mistaken and that the giveaway was, in fact, happening. The story has been updated to reflect this information.

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St. Albert Gazette

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