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‘Bringing it back to Lincoln’ – In ash borer battle, Arbor Day Foundation helps city, residents plant free new roots
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‘Bringing it back to Lincoln’ – In ash borer battle, Arbor Day Foundation helps city, residents plant free new roots


City crews have continued their battle this year with the emerald ash borer, the dime-sized Asian insect determined to decimate Lincoln’s 65,000 public and private ash trees.

In June, two years after the pest appeared in Lincoln, the city chemically treated about 700 high-value trees — granted rare reprieves because of their size, significance, health or location.

But most of the 14,000 city-owned ashes — planted in public parks, golf courses and along streets -- are still destined for the wood chipper at a rate of about 1,000 per year, said Adam Klingenberg of the Parks and Recreation Department's community forestry section.

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The city has a plan to replace each exiled ash with a variety of species, doing its own replanting in parks, and issuing $225 vouchers to homeowners to select new street-side trees.

And on Thursday, it got some help from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Foundation employees gathered in Mahoney Park to plant 50 trees — traditional oaks, elms, locusts and lindens, but also catalpas and Japanese tree lilacs and Exclamation London plane trees, all species approved in the city’s ash borer recovery plan.

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The foundation wanted a way to celebrate achieving one of the goals it set last year in its Time for Trees initiative: Inspiring 5 million people around the world to plant trees — either in their own backyards or at volunteer events — by this month.

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It didn’t take that long. The Lincoln-based foundation met the goal in June, said spokeswoman Jen Hallaman.

“It’s kind of a way of taking our global goal and bringing it back to Lincoln, engaging our employees and community members and living out our mission here at home,” she said.

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The foundation is planning a similar event next week in Nebraska City, planting 50 trees in Wildwood and Steinhart parks.

The foundation is also cosponsoring an event that will give 250 free future shade trees to the public to replace those doomed by the ash borer or damaged in recent storms.

The Trick or Tree distribution is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 24 in the parking lot of Star City Shores, near 33rd Street and Nebraska 2. Residents are allowed up to two trees on a first-come, first-served basis, and can choose from American sycamore, bur and red oak, Kentucky coffee tree and northern catalpa.

How to get ready for the emerald ash borer in the Lincoln area

Because of the pandemic, residents must stay in their vehicles while volunteers load the three-gallon containers and planting instructions.

The event is also sponsored by the Peter Kiewit Foundation, FedEx, Lincoln Parks and Recreation and the Community Forestry Advisory Board.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter


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