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Cyclists plant their roots at museum for event

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Cyclists riding around Lake Ontario filled up the gardens behind the Jefferson County Historical Society museum on Wednesday morning to pay homage to trees.

About 95 cyclists, from all over the United States and Canada, stopped in Watertown on Wednesday as part of a 585-mile bike trip around Lake Ontario to raise money for trees. All arborists and foresters, they are participating in this year’s Stihl Tour des Trees.

City senior planner Michael A. Lumbis said the event will motivate him to work harder on the city’s tree population.

“It was great to have so many arborists and foresters in Watertown,” he said.

The 2013 tour showcases upstate New York and the province of Ontario’s scenery, historic trees, urban centers and favorite destinations. The cyclists made a pit-stop at the museum for a tree planting in the museum’s garden. National Grid donated the Japanese lilac.

The event gave Mr. Lumbis a chance to brag about the city’s efforts to improve “Watertown’s tree canopy,” he said. Over the years, a group of enthusiasts called Tree Watertown, the city and other groups have come together to plant more than 6,000 trees throughout the city.

Tour des Trees is a one-week trip that raises money for theTree Research and Education Endowment Fund and promotes the importance of urban trees. The tour started Sunday at Niagara Falls.

During Wednesday’s event at the museum, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and museum officials spoke. About 75 of the 95 bikers also attended the ceremony. Afterward, they headed to Cape Vincent to catch the ferry to Kingston.

On Tuesday, the cyclists were at Westcott Beach.

In 2003, the Tour des Trees also went through Watertown. This year the riders are making their way to Ontario’s Toronto Islands, where the convention will start Saturday.

Since 1992, the Tour des Trees has generated more than $5.6 million and has funded a variety of research projects and educational programs for budding tree-care professionals.


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