Tree planting project finishes goal of 9,000

By Bettyanne Bruin
Salt Lake City, UT (January, 31, 2008)- No one takes the words of Joyce Kilmer, who penned the words “I think that I shall never see a poem more lovely than a tree,” more seriously than TreeUtah, a nonprofit organization that seeks to replant the state of Utah one tree at a time. Dedicated to planting trees, stewardship and education, TreeUtah set a goal to plant nearly 9,000 seedlings along the Jordan River restoration site in South Jordan.

“We are close to wrapping it up,” says Jeff Ward, TreeUtah’s executive director. Adds Vaughn Lovejoy, organizer and ecological-restoration coordinator of the tree-planting project: “We’re always looking for volunteers.”
After 10 years of planning, the Willow Creek stream channel was re-routed to its natural bed along the east side of the Jordan River, just south of 10600 South. More than 100 volunteers gathered for the next phase of the project, which was to plant willows, cottonwoods and other wetland and upland shrub species.
Lovejoy’s passion for trees began as a young boy when he developed an interest in birds. Eventually working with the Audubon Society, he brought a group of friends together in 1990 to help give a big push for tree planting on Earth Day. The group joined with TreeUtah, and the planting projects have sprung up ever since.
“We’ve had thousands of volunteers come out to help throughout the years,” Lovejoy says. “Eventually, this most recent project will result in 120 acres of shrubs and trees that will bring in 98 different kinds of songbirds.”
Lovejoy says the area along the Jordan River contains the most critical type of habitat and a large number of species. He calls the area “the jewel in the heart of the valley.”
“It’s great to be working on an important re-greening effort at a time when other organizations are doing so . . . across the nation,” says Jeff Ward, executive director of TreeUtah. “Part of our goal is to draw attention to the benefits that trees provide our community and the good work being done at the grass-roots level all across the country to improve urban and community forests.”
Since 1990, TreeUtah has planted 300,000 trees. It is part of a larger organization, the Alliance for Community Trees, a national coalition of 140 nonprofit organizations engaged in urban and community forestry in 39 states and Canada.
Lovejoy says TreeUtah has helped several young men working toward their Eagle Scout award. He adds that TreeUtah’s Web site has the information and forms needed for anyone interested in this type of project.
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