Five Rivers MetroParks launched a reforestation initiative in 2020, Healing Nature. It has two primary focuses:
- To assist property owners and communities in Montgomery County that were impacted by the 2019 Memorial Day tornados with tree replacement and habitat restoration.
- To encourage everyone in the region to take advantage of the access to nature that Five Rivers MetroParks provides as a means of healing respite — mind, body and soul.
“Five Rivers MetroParks has a specific long-term role to play in efforts to recover from the tornadoes, which is restoring lost habitat and providing respite for our community,” said Becky Benná, Five Rivers MetroParks’ executive director. “An untold number of trees, shrubs and other plants critical to our region’s wildlife and natural heritage were lost during the storms. It’s important we replant in the areas where so many were lost to tornado damage.”
Every year, Five Rivers MetroParks staff and volunteers grow native trees from seeds at the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. These native tree seedlings are the foundation of Healing Nature’s reforestation initiatives.
However, to protect the health and safety of the public and MetroParks’ employees, as well as to slow the spread of COVID-19, the official kick off for the reforestation portion of Healing Nature has been postponed.
In addition, Healing Nature reforestation events have been cancelled. This includes Adopt-A-Park, the annual Carolyn Kimes Tree Seedling Giveaway and Seedling Saturdays. A native tree seedling giveaway scheduled for April 25 also has been cancelled.
Five Rivers MetroParks will attempt to reschedule the native tree seedling giveaway and Healing Nature volunteer activities in fall 2020, pending ongoing precautions related to COVID-19. Read more about MetroParks’ response to COVID-19 and learn how to safely use your parks and trails here.
The second part of the Healing Nature initiative — focusing on encouraging the community to take advantage of the access to nature MetroParks provides — can be found at metroparks.org/natureisopen and on Five Rivers MetroParks’ social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
The Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation is still accepting donations to support Healing Nature. Funds will be used to purchase or grow native trees and shrubs that will be planted in tornado-damaged areas. You can make a donation online or contact Beth Redden, chief of philanthropy, at 937-275-PARK or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much has changed in the world since MetroParks launched its Healing Nature initiative. The COVID-19 public health emergency is a serious and evolving situation. Extraordinary measures are needed to protect the public’s health and safety during these extraordinary times. Five Rivers MetroParks thanks the public for its cooperation and understanding during this time. MetroParks staff and volunteers look forward to working with the community to implement Healing Nature’s reforestation initiatives as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so.
“Trees not only provide habitat for wildlife and places of respite for humans: Trees improve air quality, mitigate stormwater, provide shade and enhance aesthetic beauty, and increase property values,” Benná said. “It’s important we heal the nature that heals our community.”