West Holt Ag Students help with "Free Trees" Planting at Mill Race Park
Amanda Sindelar/City of AtkinsonCity of Atkinson maintenance and park crew members Charlie Griess and Gabrielle Wright, and Tree Board Members Scott Shane and Gary Lech Sr. stand with West Holt Public Schools freshman agriculture students near one of the trees the group planted at Atkinson Mill Race Park and Campground.
Thanks to the “Ten Free Trees” program, an effort of Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, the City of Atkinson received 10 trees. These trees were planted on Oct. 7 at Atkinson Mill Race Park & Campground.
The city received two each of the following trees: Kentucky Coffee, Northern Catalpa, Eastern Cottonwood, Red Oak, and Hastings American Elm.
Assisting with the event were City of Atkinson maintenance and park crew members Chris Winer, Charlie Griess, Travis Schmitz, and Gabrielle Wright; Tree Board Members Gary Lech Sr. and Scott Shane; Economic Development Director Amanda Sindelar; West Holt Public Schools Ag Teacher David Gibbens; UNL Student Teacher Lane Kelley of Central City; and students from the freshman agriculture class.
“We have had to remove several trees over the years at our parks and Woodlawn Cemetery,” said Utilities Superintendent Gary Thurlow. “We always encourage and welcome donated trees from organizations as well as the public. If someone would like to purchase a leaf tree for the cemetery, we also can plant their donated tree near a loved one’s grave for them.”
Despite providing a wide range of social, economic, and environmental benefits, most Nebraska community forests have been in steady and sometimes dramatic decline. Many challenges contribute, including extreme weather, insects, disease, and lack of diversity. The Emerald Ash borer is the latest major challenge added to the list.
In an effort to stop this decline and increase community forest resilience, the “Ten Free Trees” program grants up to 10 high quality trees for tree-related educational events and community celebrations promoting trees and fall planting.
In addition to simply planting more trees, the program’s goals include increasing appreciation and awareness of the value of community forests in Nebraska. Special emphasis is placed on species diversity and higher impact projects, especially street tree planting and projects in neighborhoods of highest need.
“Free Trees for Fall Planting” is supported by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Trees for Nebraska Towns Initiative funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust.