July 26, 2014

Planting effort to rebuild park hit hard by winds

A group of volunteers will gather in an eastern Iowa park this morning to help “re-populate” the area. A wind storm struck Union Grove State Park near Tama last summer. Mark Signs of Trees Forever says sustained wind speeds of more than 100 miles per hour were recorded during that July 11 storm

“It just was devastating to tree populations in many communities. We’re working with several right now,” Signs says. “Union Grove State Park was hit particularly hard and I think they estimate about 75 percent of the trees in the park were damaged or destroyed.”

The park was established in 1938 and features a 110-acre lake — but the word “Grove” in the park’s name illustrates that trees are a main feature of the landscape. The tree-planting project at the park is partly financed with an anonymous donation from a woman whose family used to camp at the park when she was a child.

“She had very fond memories of those days and when she visited the park last summer after the windstorm was devastated to see all the damage that had occured and just was really motivated to do something about it,” Signs says. “She gave a significant donation — she and her husband, who wish to remain anonymous — and we coupled that with a grant from the Alliant ‘Branching Out’ program and other local donations that have come in to really kick start the project and allow us to know that we’re going to be able to plant 100 trees over the next two years.”

Different ages and different sizes of trees will be planted. It’s important to have “diversity” in the park, according to Signs.

“We never want to have too many of one species in an area at any given time,” Signs says. “If a pest or a disease were to come through and wipe out that species you’d be left with a very empty forest or park, like is the case now after the wind storm.”

The park is about four miles from Gladbrook and is near Tama and Toledo as well. Gladbrook’s Trees Forever chapter will be at today’s tree planting in the park and a local Boy Scout troop will be there, too. Volunteers are advised to bring shovels, spades and buckets or wheelbarrows to haul the dirt that will be dug to make way for the new trees.