The Middlebury Tree Board and the Middlebury Park Board joined forces to plant trees in Riverbend Park on Saturday, April 26, in honor of Arbor Day.
Tree stumps and treeless river banks along the Little Elkhart River in Riverbend Park prompted the tree board and parks department to take on the project. Nearly 30 mature Ash trees had to be removed from Riverbend Park because they had been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.
“We thank the tree board for helping us replant Riverbend Park,” said John McKee, park board president. “This is a great project and a very necessary project for the parks department.”
“For the last two years, the tree board has worked with local businesses to plant trees for Arbor Day, at Syndicate Systems and by Jayco and InTerra Credit Union,” said Larry Carlson, tree board president. “This year, we are working with the Middlebury Parks and Recreation Department. These partnerships help us leverage our efforts for the greater good of the community. It’s great to have a project in a high use area, such as the park.”
The tree board normally splits the cost of trees with the land owner for Arbor Day tree plantings. The tree board and park department used trees from the town’s tree nursery for the tree planting, thus conserving the tree board’s funds. The park department also saved money by not having to buy trees or pay for labor to plant them.
Around 15 people came to help plant the trees, mostly members of the tree board and the park board. They planted 20 trees, including Swamp White Oak, Ohio Buckeye, American Hornbeam, Redbud, Red Maple and Serviceberry.
“We are planting different kinds of trees in the park so that it will be less vulnerable to pests or diseases that attack a certain type of tree. They are mostly understory trees, and we chose them so that won’t compete with the mature trees that are here,” said Tom Enright, parks and recreation manager.
“We live close by Riverbend Park. We heard they needed help today, so we came,” said community volunteer, Ludnila Emerson. She and her son, Sasha Chapman, helped plant the trees. “It was so sad when they cut down the Ash trees. We wanted to make sure this park remains beautiful.”
The Middlebury tree board has been celebrating Arbor Day by planting trees since 1996.