Giving back is growth for youth groupDULUTH, Minn. — Emma Burns grabbed a willow branch along a trail at Duluth’s Hartley Park and pulled it down where her friend Hannah Johnson could reach it.
By: Sam Cook, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
DULUTH, Minn. — Emma Burns grabbed a willow branch along a trail at Duluth’s Hartley Park and pulled it down where her friend Hannah Johnson could reach it.
“I’ll hold. You cut,” said Burns, 13, of Hudson, Wis.
Johnson, 17, of Woodbury, Minn., snipped off a 2-foot willow branch and tossed it on a nearby pile.
The girls planned to put the willow branches in water and, later this week, other girls will transplant them along Chester Creek in Chester Park. Earlier this month, more than 100 large trees, many of them willows, were cut along the stream in flood clean-up efforts, drawing the ire of trout anglers and state fisheries officials.
Burns and Johnson are among 900 young women attending the Regional Young Women’s Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Leaders of the conference learned about the need for trees at Chester Park, said Duluth’s Elsie Davis, who’s on the conference planning committee. The conference is based at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“We were looking for a project the girls could walk to from UMD,” Davis said. “This came along, and we were grateful to help.”
The Duluth Parks and Recreation Department will coordinate the transplanting effort. Transplanting willow branches works well, said Judy Gibbs, trees and trails coordinator for the city of Duluth.
“Willows are pretty famous for growing easily,” Gibbs said. “You cut lower branches, anything smaller than your pinky. Cut a few off, put them in water, take them over and put them in the ground.”
Some branches may also be collected from willows at Chester Park, Gibbs said. Planting will take place on Thursday and Friday, Gibbs said.
The city welcomes the help in planting, said Kathy Bergen, manager of the Parks and Recreation Department.
“Volunteers are tremendously important to us,” Bergen said. “Our park system is so huge, we just can’t do all of these things on our own…. We certainly appreciate them and the value of the work they do. It lasts for generations.”
Park officials hope the willow saplings will grow to provide shade for Chester Creek, which is a state-designated trout stream supporting brook trout. Shade along trout streams is important because it keeps water temperatures from rising too high.
After the trees were cut at Chester Park, Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials were upset that so many large trees had been taken out. Deserae Hendrickson, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR, said the young women’s efforts are a good beginning to recovery along the creek.
“I’m certainly on board with providing more riparian (streamside) cover,” Hendrickson said. “I do think we need, in some areas, larger trees to be planted. What I’d be looking for are larger canopy trees, maybe some hardwoods.”
The girls doing the work are from 12 to 18 years old, Davis said. They’re from Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada. The conference began Monday and continues through Saturday. Some 210 of the girls will be involved in service projects each day. Many will perform their service at UMD, while others will be involved in acquiring and planting trees, Davis said.
“We are a very service-oriented church,” Davis said, “and at a very young age, the youth are taught that service is important. It’s a lay church. No one gets paid to serve. It’s a big part of our religion. We love giving back to our community.”
Sam Cook is a reporter with the Duluth News Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.