Volunteers work to restore landscape of Union Grove State Park - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Volunteers work to restore landscape of Union Grove State Park

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GLADBROOK (KWWL) -

Efforts are underway to replant thousands of trees lost in a 2011 windstorm. The storm swept through several counties, including Tama and Benton. Homes and farms were badly hit by the 100 mph winds. The storm also destroyed countless trees.

That was especially evident at Union Grove State Park, just south of Gladbrook in Tama County. On Saturday, volunteers gathered to help restore the landscape in that area for future generations.

"It's a Saturday, and there's a lot of things that could compete with people's times. So it's really great that so many people are out here," said Meredith Borchardt from Trees Forever.

It's an effort that speaks to the hearts of these volunteers, who recall the devastation of the July 2011 storm.

"It was the saddest thing you've ever seen. It was very much like a war zone. And just heartbreaking to see all those trees down. Ripped, gnarled, twisted, torn and devastated," said Gladbrook resident Patricia Clausen.

Rather than dwell on the big picture, they're tackling the landscape a few trees at a time.

"We figured we had to start somewhere!" said Clausen.

The trees planted Saturday were provided through $10,000 anonymous donation, which was then matched by Alliant Energy. That's enough to pay the twenty planted over the weekend, and dozens more in the next couple of years.

"This will just be one phase of several to try to replant at the park," said Borchardt.

It's no small effort to secure each of these saplings in the dry ground.

"I figured it'd be like the soft soil, but it's very hard! You've got to put some back work into it," said Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School Senior Abbie Walton.

But the work will pay off -- especially for the younger volunteers.

"They can come back in fifty years and look at the trees they planted and remember what they did back in high school and know they made a difference. They're making a difference by helping replace what was once here," said GRHS science teacher Tom Boheman.

"It's our home. It's our shade. And when that's gone, it changes what we do, it changes how we live. It changes how we see the world," said Clausen.

The branches have a long way to grow, but someday a new generation will see their world under the shade of these trees.

Trees Forever is planning to hold another event like this in the spring. They are planting a variety of trees to enhance the diverse foliage already present at the state park.

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