SLC Cemetery unveils new arboretum dedicated to longtime caretaker

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(Courtesy of the Salt Lake City Cemetery)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A newly-accredited arboretum has opened at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Saturday.

The Mark Smith Memorial Arboretum is named after longtime Cemetery Sexton Mark Smith, who died in 2019. The idea for an arboretum was long advocated by Smith who was a notable presence at the cemetery throughout his 20-year career. He was the cemetery’s 31st sexton, also known as a cemetery’s caretaker, and its longest-serving as well.

“As a longtime champion of preserving and expanding our City’s beautiful urban forest, I’m thrilled our City now has an official arboretum in one of our most historic and storied public spaces,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “To have it named in Sexton Mark Smith’s honor is fitting, as he was a valued public servant who loved the cemetery and its beautiful tree canopy.”

The cemetery’s arboretum features a variety of 80 types of trees. Each tree has a plaque that corresponds to an online map so visitors can easily locate each one. The arboretum’s unveiling took place on Smith’s birthday. A sign, deeming the wooded area the “Mark Smith Memorial Arboretum” rests permanently in the cemetery’s southwest corner near the main entrance.

“Over the last 170 years, generations of Salt Lake City residents have planted and cared for trees in hopes of cultivating a better quality of life,” said Salt Lake City Urban Forestry Director Tony Gliot. “As a result of those efforts, a forest for people grew. Establishing an accredited arboretum on the Salt Lake City Cemetery grounds signifies the historical and enduring connection between trees and people in our great City.”

To learn more about the cemetery or to plan a visit, click here.

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