More than 100 cyclists rode through Skaneateles on Monday with a common goal: saving trees.
The Tour de Trees charity bike ride, the largest tree research fundraiser in the U.S., made a rest stop in Skaneateles on Monday to dedicate a newly planted tree in Clift Park.
Skaneateles is a Tree City USA and was picked by the International Society of Arboriculture to be a rest stop on the tour and also a recipient of a new tree in recognition of its tree planting efforts, Tree Advisory Board Chairman Anne Neibert said.
The newly planted linden tree in Clift Park, between the gazebo and Genesee Street, was dedicated by a group of riders, village officials and community members. Rider Phil Graham led a unique blessing for the tree that involved the group all chanting: “the roots are on fire,” and “give trees a chance.”
The proceeds from the tour all go to tree research and scholarships administered by the Tree Research Education and Endowment (TREE) Fund. Each rider had to raise at least $3,500 and the event hoped to raise about $600,000 total. The tour first started in 1992 and moves to a different part of North America every year.
STIHL, who manufactures power tools for trimming trees, is the title sponsor for the event this year. Local sponsors included National Grid and Bartlett Tree Experts.
The tour consists of seven days of riding and the more than 100 participants cover 585, miles rain or shine, starting in Niagara Falls, Canada and doing a loop around Lake Ontario ending in Toronto on Aug. 3.
Before arriving in Skaneateles on Route 20, the riders rode along Owasco Lake and through the Auburn area. Their day concluded by riding to Syracuse.
One of the key needs of tree research and funding right now is dealing with the emerald ash borer, an invasive species of beetle that has been killing ash trees in North America, TREE Fund trustee Anita Gambill said.