Healing Nature

Five Rivers MetroParks is giving away thousands of native tree seedlings to help reforest areas that were damaged during the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes. The giveaway is part of MetroParks’ reforestation initiative, Healing Nature, designed to assist property owners and communities in Montgomery County that were impacted by the tornadoes with tree replacement and habitat restoration.

Community members can pick up the free tree seedlings at the 2nd Street Market, 600 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton, on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Tree seedlings will come in easy-to-handle containers with directions on how to plant and care for them. MetroParks staff, wearing masks, will be on site to help with tree selection and answer questions. A list of the available tree seedlings is below.

Trees will be available on a first- come, first-served basis. The tree seedling pickup will be held outdoors, and face coverings and social distancing are required.

“Five Rivers MetroParks has a specific long-term role to play in efforts to recover from the tornadoes, which is restoring lost habitat,” 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.”

Five Rivers MetroParks staff and volunteers grow native trees from seeds at the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, which is the source of the seedlings.

This tree seedling giveaway was originally scheduled for April but had to be cancelled in the spring due to precautions related to COVID-19. Read more about MetroParks’ response to COVID-19 and learn how to safely use your parks and trails here.

Healing Nature was launched in January 2020 as a two-part initiative. In addition to the reforestation effort, Healing Nature also focused on encouraging the community to take advantage of the access to nature MetroParks provides. That content can now be found at metroparks.org/natureisopen and on Five Rivers MetroParks’ social media channels (FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube).

Donations can be made to the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation to support Healing Nature. Funds will be used to help restore lost habitats in tornado-damaged areas, including Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. To make a donation, visit www.metroparks.org/about/foundations/or contact Beth Redden, chief of philanthropy, at 937-275-PARK or beth.redden@metroparks.org.

“Trees not only provide habitat for wildlife and places of respite for humans,” Benná said. “Trees improve air quality, mitigate stormwater, provide shade and enhance aesthetic beauty, and increase property values. It’s important we heal the nature that heals our community.”

NATIVE TREE SPECIES AVAILABLE SEPT. 26

Click each species below for information and photos.

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