Tarpon Springs adopts a city tree

Peace 4 Tarpon founding director Robin Saenger thanks the city commission for moving forward with the adoption of the Red Mangrove as Tarpon Springs official city tree.

TARPON SPRINGS — City commissioners unanimously approved the adoption of the red mangrove as the official city tree during their Dec. 13 meeting.

“I appreciate you all moving on this,” said Robin Saenger, founding director of Peace 4 Tarpon, who spearheaded the effort to make the red mangrove the city’s symbol.

Saenger the commission to proclaim the red Mangrove as the official tree of Tarpon Springs at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Red mangroves, also known as Rhizophora mangle and walking trees, like all mangroves, are built to survive wet, salty areas where other plans cannot thrive.

They get the name walking trees because of their prop roots, which grow from their branches and down into the water, making trees look like they are walking. These roots keep the tree from falling over and bring extra air and oxygen into the tree.

The red mangrove can be found in estuarine areas throughout Tarpon Springs.

The tree also serves as nurseries for the Gulf, providing space for commercially caught fish that can be found in Tarpon Springs, including snook, snapper, tarpon, jack and red drum. They provided a habitat for sponge, oysters, barnacles, crab, clams and shrimp and rookeries for birds.

“I think it’s great for our city. It plays into our ecology,” Saenger, a former city commissioner, said. “As a working waterfront, I think it’s perfect for Tarpon.”

During the Oct. 16 meeting, Mayor Chris Alahouzos said he liked the rendering of the red mangrove city symbol Saenger showed commissioners but asked her to meet with other organizations and get their approval.

“I appreciate you went around and got support from all of the different organizations,” Alahouzos said during the Dec. 13 meeting.

Saenger also added that a coloring contest for children, including early learning, charter and private school students. will be one of the first outreach programs launched after the final renderings of the symbol are sent out.

“That’ll be a good learning experience for the kids,” Alahouzos said.

Although there is still work to be done, involving final renderings, consistent branding and possible collaborations with the Public Art Committee, Saenger is excited to see this plan come to fruition in Tarpon Springs.

“I look forward to having it as part of the city’s brand and something we can all be proud of,” Saenger said.