By Jessica Umbro

For The Diamondback

The Prince George’s County parks and recreation department gave out 500 trees to the local community Saturday to better the environment and support their conservation commitment.

The event was held at the College Park Airport where community members could come and select a dogwood, black gum or white oak tree.

Kevin Cabrera, museum director at the College Park Aviation Museum, explained the museum wanted to give back to the community after cutting back trees to fit regulations.

“There was some work done alongside the airport over the last six to eight months of doing some tree trimming, and I know that there was a lot of concern within the community,” Cabrera said. “So we’re here today to give back to the community.”

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Christine Fanning, division chief for natural and historical resources in the parks and recreation department, said she sees trees as an important part of the local environment.

“We want to make sure that people across the city and country have an opportunity to plant with us and think about the next generation,” Fanning said. “We’re hoping that people come and think about their backyards as wildlife habitat.”

About 250 community members turned out for the event, Cabrera said.

“I’m doing a lot of native planting in my yard so I was excited to get a free tree,” said Bowie resident Theresa Meadows, who stopped by early in the morning.

Another local resident, Liz Knotts, appreciated the department’s work, stating, “I think it’s wonderful …making our community more beautiful.”

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Kyle Lowe, assistant division chief for the department’s natural and historical resources division, said the event was a part of the department’s overall mission.

“These events are … bringing the community together, trying to bring attention to the importance of the environment,” he said. “All of these things are just part of the larger things that we do to try to … enhance resources and things that are available to the residents of Prince George’s County.”

The tree giveaway is just one of the resources the department provides. It also partnered with other organizations for the Anacostia River Festival and has given out seeds to residents.

Jaqueline Menjivar Larios, an outreach and engagement assistant within the department’s public affairs and marketing division, urged residents to get involved with their events.

“We are going to have more future events like this, that we get to help the environment more,” she said. “I think that’s a great step forward for everyone in the community.”