FAIRBURY – Roughly 180 ash trees were removed from Fairbury’s Crystal Springs Park in January, due to the threat of the emerald ash borer and the overall aging of the tree stock.
On Thursday, the city officially began replacing those trees with the Crystal Springs “Re-Tree” Project. Fairbury kicked things off with the ceremonial planting of five trees near the entrance to the park.
Laura Bedlan, the chairman of Fairbury’s tree board, says about 80 trees will be planted in the park over the next few days, with 100 more to be planted this fall and possibly more coming in spring 2020. The Little Blue Natural Resources District and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum are assisting with this project.
In total, eight different species of trees will be planted at Crystal Springs.
“The key point is diversity,” Bedlan said. “Diversity in age and type of tree. What we really want to prevent against is an infestation. We don’t want it to wipe out the entire tree stock.”
Crystal Springs Park was closed several times in late winter and early spring as it underwent a number of improvements. Roads have been improved, and camp sites are being upgraded with more renovations possible down the road.
“There’s plans for other interesting projects,” Bedlan said. “As they develop, we’ll talk more about them. I’m excited to see the park improvements.”
Crystal Springs attracts hundreds of visitors annually. The 73-acre park offers camping, fishing and other recreational activities. It was first developed in 1934 to protect one of Fairbury’s main water sources.
The trees play a vital role in this, as they help absorb and break down pollutants through a process known as phytoremediation.
From protecting the city’s water supply, to attracting visitors, new trees were a critical need for Fairbury’s overall infrastructure.
“The water department and the city has invested years in time, staff and money in just keeping this park up,” Bedlan said. “It’s a really a destination park for a lot of people now, so we want to keep going with it and keep making improvements as we can.”
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