GREENFIELD — A walk at Beckenholdt Park that will be lined with native trees took 10 steps closer to completion Wednesday, when a group of volunteers planted 10 Hoosier specimens on the nature park’s northwest side.
Greenfield Parks Department officials ultimately want one of each of Indiana’s 101 native species showcased along the walking trail at the park. They’re two-thirds of the way there, with 65 young trees gracing the winding path.
“I think it’ll be really nice, especially when these trees get bigger,” said Mary Haaser, one of the 15 or so volunteers from Covance who planted the trees.
The New Palestine resident occasionally comes to the park with friends to walk along the nature trails, and she said it will be good to see the project complete with placards giving educational tidbits on each tree.
Last year, Regreening Greenfield secured a grant to plant more than 50 trees at the park. In addition to the educational trail, the trees will help with the reforestation effort on the park’s northwest side to create a wildlife corridor.
Greenfield Parks director Ellen Kuker said the city is applying for another grant that would purchase educational signs. Since Beckenholdt Park is focused on education anyway – with signs about the wetlands, an amphitheater for programs and a weather station for Greenfield-Central High School students – Kuker said she’s looking forward to the tree walk as another opportunity for the public to learn.
While there are 101 trees native to Indiana, realistically the park may not reach that goal. There are five ash trees on the list; since the emerald ash borer puts those in danger, they are not being planted – at least for now.
Still, Joe Whitfield, naturalist for the city department, said whatever trees they’re able to plant will be beneficial to the park’s goal of nature education. Not all of the trees are native to Hancock County, he adds, but all are native to the state.
Covance not only supplied the volunteers, but also purchased the 10 trees. The company has committed to do so again next year.
Volunteer Shawn Heidel said it’s a goal of Covance to give back to the community, and doing so with an educational tool focused on a healthy activity makes sense.
Another group of Covance volunteers spent the afternoon Wednesday thinning out plants at the rain garden at city hall. The plants will later be taken to Beckenholdt Park.
Working alongside volunteers Wednesday were several parks maintenance employees. Billy Back said it’s been rewarding working on the native tree walk project over time.
“I can’t wait for my kids and grandkids to see it,” he said.
Kuker suggests any business or individual who would like to contribute to the native tree project can do so by calling (317) 477-4340.