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Oklahoma City celebrates Arbor Week; new features at Will Rogers Gardens arboretum almost complete

Oklahoma City is taking part in nationwide Arbor Week celebrations next week. The city is a Tree City USA community, a designation by the Arbor Day Foundation that helps it benefit from funding and planning help.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: March 24, 2012

The arboretum's main entrances are still blocked from the public while crews finish final touches, but they should be open sometime in April.

Ten-foot wide sidewalks, a centerpiece of the improvements, are accessible from parts of the gardens that are already open.

Planners took care to put the sidewalks on the park's natural pathways, and used recycled materials from other parks for accent work that fits the overall design scheme.

The goal was to make the park more inviting while retaining the feel of an arboretum, said Brent Wall, assistant planner for the city Parks and Recreation Department.

“We wanted to do something that was historically appropriate, but also something that was modern with a new twist to it,” Wall said. “We followed the natural land as close as we probably could. The challenge was to look at the way the land naturally flows, and weave the trail within that.”

The arboretum, which dates to Depression-era infrastructure projects, has an emphasis on local trees, and the pathways are designed to let city residents get more from the natural beauty of the park's trees, said Louis Scott, the lead horticulturalist at the park.

“It makes it so accessible for people,” Scott said. “These paths are like invitations.”