JOPLIN, Mo. —
Where there were very few trees before, there are now lots of them.
Miniature forests are being created in a green zone that stretches from Campbell Parkway to Landreth Park. In all, 1,530 trees that are native to Southwest Missouri are being planted in clusters.
“It’s a random planting, but we try to make it so that the color shows and that some trees have enough room to become majestic,’’ said Richard Rawlings, owner of Trees and More, of Joplin.
Rawlings is providing the heavy equipment to plant the trees under the guidance of Ozark Nursery, of Joplin. Huge augers are used to drill holes in the ground where the trees are to be planted. A Bobcat skid loader carries the tree to the hole. Before the tree is planted, ropes are loosened to free the root ball. The loader is then used to fill in the hole around the ball.
Once the hole is drilled, a 20-foot-tall tree can be planted in a matter of minutes.
“With that many trees to be planted, we have got to get them in the ground as quickly as possible,’’ said Gayl Navarro, with Ozark Nursery.
“We wanted to make open areas for people to be able to play ball and make some shaded areas for people to picnic,’’ she said. “We want to make it as natural as if it would be in the woods.
“In some places, we have groupings of like trees together. With other trees, we want color splashed through an area.’’
The trees will be watered regularly to make sure they are established well enough to take root. The watering was in full swing on Tuesday.
Seventeen high-school volunteers with Christ Lutheran Church, near Littleton, Colo., were carrying five-gallon buckets of water to the trees. The water was coming from a spigot in Campbell Parkway or from Joplin Creek, which flows through the green zone.
“The two-year-old trees that were planted after the tornado are getting 20 gallons of water per tree,’’ said Gary Knutson, youth pastor with the church. “These new trees that are being planted today will be getting eight buckets of water each.’’
The city of Joplin teamed up with the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center to secure a $500,000 grant to fund the project through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The DNR money is pass-through federal money for stormwater management projects.
“The grant is actually for stormwater management,” said Tony Robyn, who wrote the grant application for the city. “The money is available to help shade urban streams and provide wildlife habitat along riparian corridors.
“This was an existing grant that we piggybacked with the Audubon center to get funded. This is what the city’s partnership with Audubon is about. We can share the resources and their expertise to make this happen.’’
To get the $500,000, the city provided a match of $330,000 in which stormwater work in the city was used as the match.
“We easily met the match with city staff time,” Robyn said. “It did not require a special appropriation from the city. We contracted for 1,530 trees to get the biggest bang for the buck.’’
Robyn said the tree planting is part of a much broader effort to green the whole Joplin Creek corridor. In time, water-retention ponds will be constructed on Joplin Creek between 15th and 20th streets to slow and better control the flow of water through Campbell Parkway and Landreth Park.
The trees are being planted from 20th Street and Murphy Boulevard to F Street in Landreth Park.
Most of the trees are being planted within 300 feet of the creek corridor. About 30 trees are being planted per acre.
The grant, which stipulates the trees must be in the ground by Aug. 30, calls for species to be planted that are native to the state. The actual choices reflect trees that are native to the local ecoregion. Among them are bur oak, red maples, red oak, river birch, red bud and sycamore.