Publicly planted trees a growing opportunity in PdC

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Members of the Cabela’s wellness team planted nine trees along the north end bike trail on St. Feriole Island this spring. Pictured (from left) are Chad Everson, Nick Coffield, Tiffany Pettera, Daisha Beaty, Cathie Nelson and Tom Nelson. (Photo by Rachel Mergen)

By Correne Martin

For years, people have had the opportunity to plant trees in public areas around Prairie du Chien, through a special city garden program. But 2018 has proven to be a more extraordinary year of tree planting enthusiasm for different purposes, such as wellness, personal recognition, trees in honor and in memory of loved ones. 

These additions to city green space are not only a good way to pay tribute to someone or something, but they are also a benefit to those who live and breathe the very air the trees provide.

Led by the St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens Committee as well as city street and parks and recreation departments, businesses, civic organizations and individual families, the tree planting program supplied 57 nursery grown trees community wide. Parks and rec commission chair Tom Nelson explained all the efforts “for the good of the order.”

First, Cabela’s purchased and planted nine trees in honor of its wellness team. These trees were arranged along the bike trail on the north end of St. Feriole Island, now referred to as the Trail of Wellness. 

Second, the Rotary Club purchased and planted 30 trees, in recognition of each member of the club. These have been placed at Lucky Park, Blackhawk Avenue (replacing hard maples) and other areas in Prairie du Chien.

Third, the gardens committee furnished 10 trees. One was planted in honor of the first grade class on Arbor Day; one is a new history tree saluting Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer;” three are replacements for some lost to flooding; two are replacing some in the Memorial Gardens orchard and three are memorials yet to be determined. These include Minnesota red buds, quaking aspen and fruit trees.

Finally, the Bunts, Pitzer/Klema and Speth/Holte families have invested in six trees, including some at the St. Feriole Island Ball Park and others on the north end of Lawler Park. The friends of Al Meyer have also purchased a memorial tree, while the Friends of the Mississippi River Sculpture Park also acquired a memorial tree in honor of Marlene Helgerson. 

In addition to these contributors, there have been a number of volunteers and investors wanting to be involved in this community movement, Nelson said. Businesses that have helped with the program or expressed interest include Cabela’s, Nelson True Value, Dillman Brothers LLC, Howe Printing, Plasco Company, Sports World and Peoples State Bank. Organizations are the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Master Gardeners, Women’s Civic Club and the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution Community Work Crew. 

“With any project, there are obstacles and challenges. One of the most enjoyable challenges was the meeting and scheduling time with all the people involved with this,” Nelson said, particularly regarding the Cabela’s and Rotary Club tree planting projects. 

He noted that a late winter storm buried the trees in snow and, later, the snow melt brought flooding to the island. Postponing and rescheduling to meet everyone’s plans was part of the waiting game. 

“We organized a tree holding area for watering and caring, predug holes and labeled stakes on the trees. Having the trees loaded on trailers and mulch loaded ahead of time helped the workers accomplish their tasks as rapidly as possible on limited time,” he added. 

In the end, the gardens committee accounted for just $864 toward this year’s public tree plantings, since $5,991 of the $6,899 was donated toward the efforts. 

“And all the trees were planted with a little love,” Nelson shared.

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