“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
― Chinese proverb
Each September for the last several years, Great Parks of Hamilton County has taken part in a truly outstanding nationwide event. National Public Lands Day was started by the National Environmental Education Foundation in 1994, and has since become the largest single-day volunteer effort on public lands. This day provides the public the opportunity to give back to the parks and areas that they may frequent as guests.
For the past two years, Great Parks has held a volunteer event at Winton Woods Campground. This year, 81 trees were planted by a group of more than 60 volunteers as an effort to reforest the campground. The campground currently has many large pine trees but very few trees of different species. This planting project helps provide a more diverse landscape of trees and will ensure that campers will enjoy a nice shady spot as the years go by.
A project of this magnitude is not completed in just the three-hour time frame for the volunteer event, but rather in the months and weeks prior to the planting. Great Parks’ staff give careful consideration of each spot selected to put a tree as well as the species of tree being planted. Once locations are selected and tree selections are finalized, all underground utilities are located before safe digging can occur. All locations that will be planted then are dug manually with a machine with an auger attachment to help speed up the volunteer planting (as well as save a few backs in the process). Trees are then delivered to each camping site prior to the day of the event, and tools are gathered and prepared to make sure each volunteer and staff member are well equipped to get the job done.
On the morning of the event, volunteers and staff meet at the campground and go over individual job tasks that need to be completed. Once the job duties are divvied out, then trained landscape staff instructs volunteers on the proper way to plant trees and how to complete the tasks each person is given. Volunteers and staff spend the next few hours working side by side to complete the work at hand. This work provides a unique opportunity for people of varying backgrounds and different walks of life to come together and learn something in the process.
At the end of the day, everyone is dirty, sore and tired, but also are left with a great sense of accomplishment at what is achieved through teamwork. The trees can be visited by the very people who planted them year after year, and they can take pride in the positive impact they’ve made on their public lands that can be enjoyed by future generations.
Chris Fath, Landscape Technician