ONEONTA _ The city Environmental Board, working with other city officials, is looking for volunteers to help with its annual tree planting during the next three days.

The board has 46 trees ready for planting in several locations on public land in the city, Environmental Board Chairman David Hutchison said.

The volunteers will be working between 1:30 and 4 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to noon Friday; and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Volunteers are asked to meet in the Dietz Street municipal parking lot across from the Oneonta Family YMCA and should bring shovels if they have them, Hutchison said.

The city is in the first year of a three-year grant-funded program that allows for the planting of 60 trees each year. It has planted trees each of the previous two years using other funding sources. A state Department of Environmental Conservation grant of $7,500 has been matched by $7,500 in city funding to cover the cost of the trees.

The State University College at Oneonta baseball team will be volunteering Saturday, Hutchison said.

The trees to be planted include ivory silk lilacs, redspire pears, Kentucky coffee, lindens and maples, he said.

There are few large trees being planted because of restrictions related to underground gas lines, overhead utility wires and water and sewer pipes, Hutchison said.

The trees are packaged for shipment and planting using the bare-root method, which includes a coating of hydrogel.

This, Hutchison said, helps keep the tree from drying out and preserves more of a tree's root structure than the bag-and-burlap method.

The committee has seen a 90 percent success rate in the first two years plantings were done.

The Environmental Board's next step may be to look at ways homeowners can be assisted in buying and planting their own trees.

"We cannot put city trees on private land," Hutchison said.

Planting the larger species of trees on private land could be one way to continue having these types of trees remain in the community, he said.

The mature large species such as elm, maple and oak that exist _ and in some cases are dying out _ in the city were planted on public property before there were restrictions on where they could be sited, Hutchison said.

He said those who plan to participate should call him at 433-2236.

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