Utica, NY (WIBX) - Today is Arbor Day, and Utica Mayor David Roefaro is giving special recognition to a family owned business that provided the city with a gift to mark the occasion. For the second year in a row, Bartlett Tree Experts, based in Stanford, CT, in partnership with Department of Public Works employees, pruned the trees at historic Bagg Square in Utica, at no charge to the city.

Certified Arborist Steve Blair said it's about preserving and protecting the areas Mature Oaks, Honey Locust and Scholar Trees. "What we're trying to do is just pick a pocket each year and go in and prune them; remove the dead branches, separate the trees from one another, sometimes we're removing lower limbs to clear the buildings, to clear other trees and trying to prune them so that the street lights are working at 100-percent efficiency," Blair said.

He says DPW employees lend a hand by following behind them to clean up the debris.  According to Dave Short, Department of Public Works  & Parks Commissioner, students at Proctor High School are also marking the occasion with a tree planting ceremony at 3:00 p.m. Short said his department assisted the school with finding the best location for the new tree. He added that the overall aim is to maintain the city's trees. "We are always trying to observe Arbor Day everyday, with planting trees and maintaining our tree canopy. We have over 8,000 city street trees in the City of Utica alone. So, we do our due diligence everyday in maintain our tree canopy," he said.

Blair said the severe storm that left a trail of devastation in parts of the county yesterday did not damage any of the trees in Bagg Square, however he said he along with other experts are working to salvage some of the trees that were damaged due to high winds and lightning. Arbor Day is a national event that encourages people to plant and take care of trees. Those who were recognized by the mayor are, Steve Blair, Sean Miller and Brad Musto with Bartlett Tree Experts. Short said getting help from certified experts, especially free of charge, goes a long way to assist DPW maintain the city's trees. Blair said the cost would have been between $1,000 - $1,500 for the project at Bagg Square this morning.

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