Fayette County

7,000 trees planted in Veterans Park

When the trees are fully grown in a few years, maybe some of the 1,000 or so volunteers who planted them Saturday in south Lexington will return to bask in their shade and recall helping Mother Earth on a cool morning in April.

Jane Wiedenhoefer of Nicholasville said she hopes her four children — ages 10 to 16 — will keep their eyes on the seedlings as the youngsters and plants mature.

"This is a great opportunity for the whole community," she said of Lexington's annual event since 1999 to plant trees in distressed park areas.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, young and old volunteers worked on seven acres of Veterans Park off Tates Creek Road to plant 7,000 trees of 25 different species, ranging from bur oak to sweetgum.

The planting, part of the program called Reforest the Bluegrass, occurred on a knolly area behind Lexington Fire Station #22 and near a stream that carries storm water through lowlands and into the West Hickman Creek and watershed area.

Reforest the Bluegrass is a collaborative effort by various departments in the Urban County Government, public organizations, businesses and volunteers.

"Besides improving the appearance of the area, the trees will serve as a water-management project," said John Bobel, the program's public information officer.

In the past 11 years, Reforest the Bluegrass has planted 175,000 tree seedlings at Masterson Station Park, Coldstream Park, Jacobson Park, Veterans Park and in several greenways in Lexington.

Bobel said this year's project will cost $15,000 to $20,000, but businesses will pick up most of the tab.

Workers from the state Division of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service a hand Saturday.

"It's easy," said state forestry employee Peter Barber of Lexington.

In advance of the volunteers, workers marked places where trees were to be planted.

Tools were on hand to dig slits in the ground for the seedlings, and a black mat surrounded each one to keep nutrient-robbing grass from growing around the tree.

"It's pretty cool," said volunteer planter Hamilton Gensheimer, 16. "It's a chance to help the environment."

His 10-year-old brother, Larkin Gensheimer, who planted five seedlings, agreed. "It's helpful for Mother Nature."

Chuck Hendricks, a Lexington real estate broker who volunteered with friends Ken and Tammy Silvestri, said the plantings shouted for a new political party.

"Call this one the 'Tree Party,'" he said.