New trees will perk up park in Sunfish Lake

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 11, 2011 - 2:18 PM

The nonprofit Tree Trust will enlist volunteers to plant 43 trees Saturday in Musser Park.

Sunfish Lake -- a south-metro city that prides itself on its pristine natural landscape -- will get even greener this month.

The nonprofit Tree Trust based in St. Louis Park has awarded the city 43 trees to be planted on Saturday in a meadow at Musser Park.

The 22-acre park, which was donated to the city by Elizabeth Musser in November 2002, is permanently preserved as a natural area by the Minnesota Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement on the land.

The city has removed barbed-wire fencing from the property and is locating the new plantings to soften the old fence line, said Sunfish Lake city forester Jim Nayes.

"The new trees will be helping us go from what were fields and meadows that were fenced to a natural woodland look. It's lovely now, and it will be even more lovely as these trees develop."

The tiny city of about 500 people has no full-time city employees and no budget for tree plantings, said Nays, who works part-time as a consultant.

Through the Tree Trust's Green Futures program, the city will contribute $5 a tree for a batch that will include scotch pine, white spruce, burr oak, black cherry, hackberry, Kentucky coffee trees and elm. Nayes values the installation at about $8,000.

The rustic park, which is north of Interstate 494 on the south side of Salem Church Road, has a trail and a single stone bench. Public parking is not provided, but park-goers may park their vehicles on Old Salem Church Road and walk across the ditch and into the park, Nayes said.

The remote acreage does not have a source of water. The Mendota Heights Fire Department, which serves Sunfish Lake, will bring water for the planting in a pickup truck equipped with a 150-gallon water tank used by the department for fighting brush fires.

For ongoing watering, Nayes plans to truck in water using a trailer loaned by resident Dick Bancroft.

The Green Futures program is funded primarily by an anonymous donor who "has a passion for trees," said Susan Gethin, chief executive officer of Tree Trust. The donor matches any donation made to the program. Each $150 buys and plants another tree, Gethin said.

Since its start in 2007, Tree Trust has planted trees in St. Louis Park, Spring Park, Lake Elmo Park Reserve, Minnetrista, St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Burnsville, North Minneapolis and Bloomington. For more information about Tree Trust, go to www.tree trust.org.

To help cities take advantage of the program, Tree Trust provides a landscape plan and takes care of the trees for the first couple of years, Gethin said.

Volunteers for the planting on Saturday will show up to find holes already in the ground.

The trees come in 8- to 10-inch round containers. Their roots must be clipped carefully before they are planted to prevent them from growing in a circle and strangling a tree, Gethin said.

Sunfish Lake volunteers may register for the event with Felecia at felecias@treetrust.org or by calling 952-767-3884

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287

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