Columbia park receives award

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COLUMBIA - Achievement is a walk in the park for one of Columbia's favorite green spaces.

Stephens Lake Park was recently awarded Level II status accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Program.

Columbia's horticulturist, Ryan Russell, said Stephens Lake Park received the accreditation by fulfilling certain requirements.

"We had to have at least 100 different species of trees, we had to have an ongoing education program and a few other factors that we had to get done," he said.

Russell said the status will benefit the city of Columbia.

"It's going to help us out as far as expanding the collections which will help with education," he said.

Inspecting and identifying different species of trees may inspire some to visit the part. Others, like Columbia resident Sam Thomas, visit Stephens Lake Park for exercise.

"I walk in the park usually everyday at lunchtime," he said. "I usually come back in the evening every other day or so and usually run around the trail."

Thomas said he is routinely impressed with the park's beauty.

"It's just a nice, clean, safe-feeling park," he said. 

Thomas said he has participated in various 5k runs hosted there. Russell said such events allow residents to take in what the park has to offer.

With the accreditation, Russell said he hopes to expand diverse plant and tree collections.

"We're always looking for new species, new cultivars to put in the park," he said.

Russell said tending to growing plant life will require volunteer assistance. He said Columbia Parks and Recreation hopes to start up a volunteer group to assist with weeding and watering within the next year.

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