Joplin, MO (October 4, 2013) – Nearly 1,000 trees are being delivered to local Joplin, MO residents who lost trees in the May 22, 2011, tornado. So far, more than 11,500 trees have been distributed to Joplin and Duquesne resident over the past two years in an effort to reforest Joplin. An estimated 20,000 trees were lost to the storm.
Homeowners can apply for the free trees, which are being made available through a joint project by Forest ReLeaf of St. Louis, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the cities of Joplin and Duquesne.
Nearly two dozen volunteers, most from the St. Louis area, planted about 50 trees this past weekend, including 20 trees at Peace Lutheran Church, and another 30 trees went to 11 homes in the tornado zone.
Peace Lutheran Church, with a congregation of about 100 people, opened the doors of its new building in May to coincide with the second anniversary of the tornado. Trees planted in the front lawn would replace those that construction crews had to take out to build the parking lot.
The trees, all about 3 or 4 years old, were grown in the nursery of Forest ReLeaf, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship of the state’s trees and forests, and donated by Ameriprise Financial, a financial services company based in Minneapolis.
The trees are made up of native species to the area, including a variety of oaks, redbuds, and black tupelos. Having those native trees available is what Missouri Master Naturalist member Val Frankoski hopes will help increase the regrowth of natural resources taken away by the tornado. Efforts are also being made to plant smart, planting trees in areas that will not interfere with power lines as they grow.
“Putting the right tree in the right place just makes perfect sense,” Frankoski said. “It will help bring the right insects back, which will attract birds. It will really help start so much rebuilding in our area, not only for our environment but also with the lives of the people impacted by the tornado.”