Efforts underway to replenish McGregor’s tree population

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By Audrey Posten

 

Over 40 trees have been planted in McGregor in the past month, the first step in replenishing a population that was hit hard by last year’s tornado.

The effort has been led by the city’s newly-established volunteer tree board, which includes residents Sandy Beisker, Joe Brooks, Maria Brummel, Dan Keyes, Deb Scott and Morris Weller.

“McGregor is known for its trees, especially in the fall,” said Scott, who’s the board chair. “It’s wonderful to be a part of the board, bringing back that life.”

Scott said the board began meeting in January, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the table. Brummel is head of McGregor’s park board, Keyes a certified arborist and Weller the representative from McGregor Municipal Utilities. Information from city administrator Lynette Sander, as well as resources from the Arbor Day Foundation, helped them get started.

McGregor’s goal, noted Scott, is to become a Tree City. To meet that, the city must have a tree board, develop a tree care ordinance, form a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and hold an annual Arbor Day observance with proclamation.

Once established, Scott said the board began evaluating how it could aid McGregor’s tree population. Some trees merely needed to be trimmed, she explained, while others had to be removed and replaced. A representative from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources walked around the community with board representatives, recommending tree species that would be good to plant. 

“We wanted to go with a variety,” Scott said, due to the possibility of species-specific pests like the emerald ash borer or diseases like Dutch elm disease. “We also wanted to make it a variety to get beautiful color in the spring and fall.”

Outdoor Creations, of Monona, helped order and plant the trees, most of which were placed in the city’s parks. Scott said Turner, Artesian, Cannon, Gazebo and Riverfront parks all have new trees, as does the Dr. Smith Childcare and Learning Center property. 

Trees will also be planted in the area between the road and sidewalk along Ann Street, from Second through Fourth streets.

The city’s forestry budget, along with funds received following the tornado, helped pay for these efforts, Scott said.

“The $2 per capita [in the forestry budget] doesn’t seem like much,” she remarked, “but it helped us get as many trees as we did.”

Thanks to a donation from Lions Club International, around 20 trees will be planted on residential properties on Main and Ann streets, as well as Walton Avenue, where trees were destroyed by the tornado. Lions volunteers will come to McGregor and help mulch and stake the trees as needed.

Tree board volunteers are now regularly watering the new trees, and welcome residents to pitch in, too.

“People can come out and help us,” Scott said. “We’re always looking for volunteers to help with watering, planting and maintaining.”

Contact any tree board member if you’re interested.

Even though it will take years for these new trees to mature, Scott mentioned it’s important to start somewhere.

“I hope those who follow will appreciate what we’ve done,” she said. “Hopefully others will carry on that heritage.”

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