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Project works to replenish trees near park

Dec. 11, 2012 @ 11:30 PM

HUNTINGTON -- A project to ensure the tall tree canopy above 13th Avenue in front of Ritter Park remains for several more decades began Tuesday.

Workers with Kotalic Landscaping planted 20 pin oak and sugar maple trees on the residential side of the busy thoroughfare between 8th and 12th streets. The project is a partnership between the city of Huntington's Urban Forestry Advisory Committee and two local couples.

Several trees along 13th Avenue have been removed during the past 10 years because of age, disease or storm damage but have not been replaced, said Courtney Proctor Cross, chairwoman of the committee. Many of the remaining large oak trees only have 20-30 years of life left in them, she said.

The absence of a tree-replacement program bothered Huntington resident Pam Miller whenever she drove along 13th Avenue, so she went to Cross and asked what could be done. Miller and her husband, David, along with Sterling and Rosalee Hall, donated money to purchase the 20 trees, while committee members worked with Kotalic Landscaping to determine the best spots for the trees. The committee hopes to extend the project along the residential side of 12th Street in front of the park, Cross said.

"The Halls and Millers don't live in that area of Huntington, but they believe planting more trees is a project that really benefits the city," Cross said. "Trees retain water, which helps with storm water runoff, they provide homes for animals, and they add to the beauty of the city. Neighborhoods that have a healthy urban forest also tend to have higher property values than areas that have been depleted of trees."

Cross said she hopes other Huntington residents follow the Halls' and Millers' lead and begin to raise money for tree-planting projects in their own neighborhoods. The Urban Forestry Advisory Committee will help select the right trees, devise a landscaping plan and make arrangements for planting, Cross said.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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