Grants for trees and baseball players add diversity to city parks

By Suzi Nelson The Ashland Gazette

ASHLAND — Ten new trees were planted in Ashland last week with the help of a handful of high school baseball players.

The city of Ashland received the new trees through the Ten Free Trees grant, an effort of the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

The new trees were planted Oct. 5 at Jack Anderson Ball Park and adjacent municipal property that was once the site of Rodeo Arena.

Director of Public Works Shane Larsen was in charge of the planting, with help from City Councilman Jim Anderson and Mayor Rick Grauerholz.

“Everyone had a great time, and we got a few extra trees,” Grauerholz said at the Oct. 7 city council meeting.

Baseball coach Shawn Emanuel brought in a team of students from Ashland-Greenwood High School, including players from the Platte Valley Patriots, a high school co-op team made up of students from Ashland-Greenwood, Yutan, and Mead High Schools.

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City administrator Jessica Quady said the city received five different tree species. Grant officials requested information on the types of trees that are already growing at Ashland in order to determine what types of trees would be provided. Quady said he received five different species.

In recent years, Ashland has lost several ash trees on city property after the emerald ash borer was detected in the community in 2019.

The emerald ash borer is a highly invasive insect that was first detected in Michigan in 2002. It has since killed millions of trees in the United States. The presence of the insect was confirmed in Missouri six years ago, in Iowa in 2010 and in Kansas two years later. . Nebraska was the 27th state to find the beetle within its borders.

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Nebraska in June 2016 in Omaha and a few days later in Greenwood. Confirmation of the insect’s presence in Mahoney was made in 2018.

After the emerald ash borer was discovered in the Ashland area, Public Works cut down damaged ash trees and felled others before they were injured by the invading beetle, as a proactive measure.

Planting many species of trees will help the city combat future devastation of trees by disease or insects. The new trees will help add tree diversity to Ashland, Quady said.

Grauerholz said the diversity of the city’s tree population may merit Ashland’s designation as an arboretum, which is defined as an area where trees and shrubs are grown for the purpose of study or decoration. exhibition, according to the

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum says being part of the arboretum network provides funding opportunities, technical support, access and discounts on plants and other materials, mentorship and other resources. Carol Joy Holling Camp near Ashland is the only accredited arboretum in the area.

In addition to the lack of diversity, Nebraska’s forests are in dramatic decline due to extreme weather, insects, and disease. The Free Trees program is an effort to halt this decline and increase the resilience of community forests, the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum said in promotional materials provided to the city of Ashland. In addition to simply planting more trees, program goals include increased appreciation and awareness of the value of Nebraska’s community forests.

Ten Free Trees is supported by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Trees for Nebraska Towns initiative, funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and a U.S. Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration grant received by the Nebraska Forest Service.

Suzi Nelson is the editor of The Ashland Gazette. Contact her by email at [email protected]

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