Five Rivers MetroParks is launching a reforestation initiative this year, 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.”
Five Rivers MetroParks staff and volunteers have been growing native trees from seeds at the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. Thousands of tree seedlings will be available to plant this spring.
The official kick off for the reforestation portion of Healing Nature will be 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 18, during Five Rivers MetroParks’ annual park clean up event, Adopt-a-Park. Volunteers of all ages and accessibility levels are needed to help with tree planting and other projects. More information will be available by March 1, when the required registration opens.
Volunteers also are needed to plant at the Great Miami Mitigation Bank, 8401 Little Richmond Road in Trotwood, during Seedling Saturdays held from 9 a.m. to noon March 28, April 25 and May 23. Registration is required.
Community members can pick up a free tree seedling (while supplies last) to plant during the annual Carolyn Kimes Tree Seedling Giveaway, held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 17, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the 2nd Street Market, 600 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton.
In addition, property owners who lost trees during the tornados can pick up free native tree seedlings (up to three per property owner) from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 25, at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, 1301 Siebenthaler Ave.
Donations to the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation to support Healing Nature also are needed. 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 email@example.com.
The second part of the initiative — focusing on encouraging the community to take advantage of the access to nature MetroParks provides — will be addressed in a marketing campaign throughout the year. The campaign, which is still in the planning stages, will provide a multitude of ways for people to connect with nature and improve their well-being.
Healing Nature will continue throughout the year, and details are still being planned. Updates will be posted here as they’re available.
“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.”