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Bringing back the forests

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By Jeff Moore

More than 50 volunteers turned out Saturday at General Butler State Resort Park to help plant 1,200 trees as part of Kentucky State Park’s “Plant a Tree” program.

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State parks received a $9,500 grant from Odwalla Juice and Food Co. for the program that is providing trees to be planted at 17 locations around Kentucky.

Tanya Supplee, parks program service supervisor at General Butler, said about half of the trees planted Saturday were placed in the grassy fields around the Butler-Turpin State Historic House. Another 200 were planted around the golf course, while 300 were near the park’s front entrance near the train track loop area.

About 100 trees were given to volunteers to plant in their own backyards.

The project’s goal is to create tree nurseries with the trees growing large enough to relocate in five to eight years, Supplee said. The trees included in the plantings were persimmon, black walnut, white oak, hickory, northern red oak and pecan.

The planting of the new trees comes on the heels of unprecedented logging in the park due to an emerald ash borer infestation that is expected to kill the large number of ash trees there. Park officials, working with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, say that in many areas the park had concentrations of ash trees ranging from 50 percent to as high as 80 percent.

Scout Troop No. 131 leader Patrick Underwood had his troop at Saturday’s planting event and has used the logging at the park as an educational activity for the boys.

He said the troop has visited the park to look at the ash trees and discuss how the EAB infestation is changing the forest and the park.

“The troop attended the public forum last fall on strategy options for dealing with ash tree depletion as a result of EAB infestation,” Underwood said. “We have discussed the impact that transporting firewood when camping can have on an ecosystem and how that demonstrates the importance of the principal of ‘Leave No Trace.’” 

This program provides principles on how to responsibly use the public parks and the outdoors.

Underwood said Monday that while the timber harvest has had a significant visual impact on Butler Park, Saturday’s event was a good opportunity for the community to get involved in restoring the forest.

“I personally believe that our community, the park system and Division of Forestry would benefit from additional opportunities to learn more about timber harvest and invasive species,” he said.

Supplee said trees were planted in grids that are 10-feet by 10-feet and marked for moving and replanting purposes.

Volunteers worked Saturday from about 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. to plant the trees received for Carrollton.

Troop 131 devoted about 20 hours to Saturday’s planting, Underwood said. He was pleased to see boys in at least two other Scout troops at the event, along with at least one local Girl Scout troop.

“Boy Scouts live by the 12 points of the Scout Law and one of these 12 points states that ‘a scout is helpful,’” Underwood said. “Scouting stresses the importance of giving back to their community through community service. Boy Scouts are known for their activities in the outdoors.”

He said they were excited to be able to combine these two interests in one event so close to home. “General Butler State Park is an important part of our community and has a special place in the heart of our troop,” Underwood said.

Supplee offered her thanks to the volunteers from the community and those from Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in Carroll County.

“It truly shows the passion and love our community has for General Butler State Resort Park,” she said. “These volunteers understand the meaning of “Plant Your Roots in Parks.”

Supplee said that stewardship of public lands was alive Saturday in Carroll County.

“General Butler State Resort Park and Kentucky Department of Parks wants to extend to this community our sincere appreciation,” she said.