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Super Bowls often have off-the-field twists.
On Feb. 3, conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan of Austin arched his brow about preparations for Super Bowl XLV, set for Sunday in Cowboys Stadium, writing in a Twitter post: "Your Texas Forest Service planted 6,000 trees in (Dallas/Fort Worth) area in advance of Super Bowl. Cost? Unknown. Why? Same. "
Asked to elaborate, Sullivan replied via Twitter that he’d learned of the trees from a Capitol newsletter, Texas Insider. Its Feb. 3 edition includes an item stating the forest service plans to help the bowl go smoothly by mobilizing an incident management team. It closes: "In addition, the agency prepared for the coming deluge of tourists by planting more than 6,000 trees in Arlington and surrounding cities."
By e-mail, a service spokeswoman, April Saginor, told us the agency put $50,000 toward planting trees in a dozen North Texas host cities, which we later identified as Addison, Arlington, Dallas, Denton, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Frisco, Grapevine, Irving, Lewisville, Plano and Richardson. The idea, Saginor said, was to partner with the NFL, the Texas Trees Foundation and other agencies "to lessen environmental impacts of hosting the Super Bowl and improve the environment and quality of life in the area."
A service press release quotes Jack Groh, director of the NFL’s environmental program, saying his agency has been facilitating environmental projects for Super Bowl host cities for 17 years. "This was the most extensive urban forestry project ever in the history" of such Super Bowl projects, Groh said. "This had more of a reach and more of an impact than we’ve ever had."
In interviews, Groh and Janette Monear, executive director of the Dallas-rooted trees foundation, told us more than 6,500 trees were planted this past year in public spaces and near schools. Monear said the forest service’s $50,000 grant, consisting of federal aid, was matched by private donations gathered by the foundation.
Groh told us the trees "actually do something for the local climate, whether it’s reducing pollution" by absorbing carbon dioxide "or lowering the temperature a little bit with shade."
Given how quickly we were able to track down such details, we wondered if the tree project was "unknown" to denizens of the host cities.
Democratic activist Phillip Martin of Austin, who poked at Sullivan’s Twitter message the night it launched, guided us to a Jan. 13 Fort Worth Star-Telegram news article previewing an Arlington luncheon, emceed by Cowboys’ great Drew Pearson, celebrating the plantings.
And on Jan. 21, our online search showed, the Dallas Morning News published a news article quoting Groh and Arlington Mayor Richard Cluck, who said: "There are so many advantages to having the Super Bowl in your town ... and one of the big ones is the environmental program. There’s nothing more important to me, and it should be to you, to grow our tree population."
The Dallas newspaper said in a Jan. 28 news article that the tree plantings are expected to touch off other planting programs. The story says the foundation "already has a deal with the city of Richardson to plant 50,000 trees, and this spring, the group will launch an initiative to put 3 million trees in North Texas soil."
The story quotes Monear as saying: "It’s a legacy project. This growth is going to benefit the region for many years."
So, 6,000 trees planted, as Sullivan says? That’s about right.
At an unknown cost? For an unknown purpose? Not so, times two. Besides, "your Forest Service," as Sullivan puts it, didn’t plant the trees by its lonesome. Moreover, half the expenses were covered by private donations.
We rate the statement Half True.
Dallas Morning News, news articles, "Arlington tree-planting effort biggest in Super Bowl history," Jan. 21, 2011 and "NFL promises the greenest gridiron yet in Dallas area," Jan. 28, 2011 (accessed Feb. 4, 2011)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, news article , "This Super Bowl celebration is all about the trees," Jan. 13, 2011 (accessed Feb. 4, 2011)
Interview, Jack Groh, director of NFL environmental program, Dallas, Feb. 4, 2011
Interview, Janette Monear, executive director, Texas Trees Foundation, Dallas, Feb. 4, 2011
Strategic Partnerships Inc., newsletter article, Texas Insider, "Texas Forest Service will lend its support for Super Bowl XLV," Feb. 3, 2011 (accessed Feb. 4, 2011)
Texas Forest Service, press release, "Texas Forest Service Lends A Hand At Super Bowl," Jan. 31, 2011 (accessed Feb. 4, 2011)
Twitter, website, MQSullivan, Super Bowl trees’ post, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3, 2011 (accessed Feb. 3, 2011)
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