New trees arrive for Todd Park

Published 7:02 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

With 110 baby trees newly arrived in Austin, the process of rejuvenating Todd Park took a big step forward on Tuesday.

The trees, largely paid for by a Hormel Foundation grant, went into the ground throughout the day as parks and recreation workers bore holes all over the park and dropped in the saplings. Todd Park, of course, was slammed by last June’s tornado, losing roughly 350 to 400 adult trees.

Kim Underwood, Austin parks and recreation director, said although the new trees will take a long time to reach the height and size of what was lost, just having them in the ground will make a difference.

“People are going to start seeing (Todd Park) in a different light,” she said.

The new trees people will see are a combination of oak, linden and maple. Tim Rodgers, a parks and recreation employee who helped with planting Tuesday, said the oak and maple trees will take at least 30 years to get anywhere near full grown.

But like Underwood, Rodgers said just getting the saplings in the ground is a big accomplishment.

“It’s been a long time,” he said. “It’s going to really add some character to this park again.”

Rodgers said getting all 110 trees into the ground will be stretched out over Tuesday and Wednesday. He also said the crew plans on getting some water to the saplings, which are pretty delicate when they are young.

After that, however, the department will largely let the trees be, except for some possible trimming and pruning over the years.

More new trees could also join the fold in the fall, Underwood said — funding still remains from the $100,000, five-year Hormel Foundation grant, and donations from the likes of the Mower County Habitat and Pheasants Forever organization have trickled in as well.

As the new trees come in and begin to grow, Underwood would also like to see the start of a GPS tree inventory system, which could be beneficial when tracking tree diseases and infestations.

The parks and recreation director added that such a system would “ensure that our children’s children will enjoy the park as we knew it.”

In the meantime, the focus is on getting Todd Park back to that point. After Wednesday, the city of Austin should be one step closer, with new trees dotting the landscape.

“I can’t wait to see them planted,” Underwood said.