Lions project to aid city park

By KATHLEEN FOX

After receiving word that the new president of Lions Clubs International had established a goal of planting 1 million trees worldwide within one year and that District Lion officials were encouraging local Lions to participate, Urbana Lions contacted the city’s Shade Tree Commission, which is intent on replacing ash trees that have been and will be removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer’ destruction.

“So far, worldwide, 302,000 trees have been planted,” Urbana Lions President Barb Keller said. The goal of International President Wing-Kun Tam of China is off to a good start, considering his one-year time line started in July.

To do their part, Urbana Lions talked to Doug Crabill, member of the Shade Tree Commission and assistant to the city director and learned that about 45 ash trees need to be removed from Melvin Miller Park. Planting replacement trees at the park seemed a worthy goal.

A challenge first went out to Urbana Lions. When a member purchases a tree at a cost of $75, the club will donate funds for another tree. Keller said the club will be able to match members’ donations for trees until club donations reach $800. She said that should buy about 10 trees.

Keller said that while the club only will be able to match club members’ donations, she and her fellow Lions hope Urbana residents, businesses and service clubs join the effort and send $75 donations to the club for more trees. Those donations will be turned over to the city, which will purchase trees this year and plant them this year and next spring.

Crabill said the estimated 45 ash trees to be removed and replaced at the park are in the frequently used areas.

He said there are more ash trees in the park’s upland woods that are not scheduled for removal at this time.

He said if the project goes extremely well and more than 45 trees can be purchased, they all will be planted in the park. “There’s plenty of land out there for them,” he said.

Asked whether the city will purchase any particular kind of tree, Crabill said a diverse selection is important.

“We’re always trying to increase the diversity of trees,” he said. “Some cities lost whole streets of trees because they only planted ash. You need diversity in case something else happens.”

Rights of way

Urbana’s rights of way along city streets will lose about 110 ash trees, and the city will be able to replace 75-100 of these trees thanks to a $10,500 Ash Removal-Canopy Restoration grant from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. The city is financially responsible for the removal part of the project and is advertising for bids for that work. The grant will pay for replacement trees.

Crabill said he expects trees in the rights of way to be removed in October and replacements to be planted in October and November.

Want to buy a tree?

Knowing many people are familiar with Lions’ interest in helping people who are visually impaired, Keller said Lions also have been involved in environmental projects for several decades.

“That’s why we are doing our part to reach the goal of 1 million trees throughout the world,” she said. Other club projects have included providing eye exams and glasses for people, providing annual school scholarships, collecting and recycling used eye glasses and sponsoring eyeglass education for elementary students.