Apple Valley, MN seeks trees for park on former quarry site

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Quarry Point Park in Apple Valley is almost everything a visitor could ask for: It’s among the city’s newest and biggest parks. It encompasses 40 acres, with multiple baseball and soccer fields, a rain garden and a sprawling playground sheltered under a colorful awning.

“It’s become a very busy park, seven days a week,” said Barry Bernstein, Apple Valley’s parks and recreation director.

But city officials say something is lacking — trees.

That will change Sept. 19, when city officials and volunteers plant 50 to 100 trees of various species as part of a partnership with Tree Trust, a local nonprofit.

Through a program called Green Futures, St. Louis Park-based Tree Trust will provide the first 50 trees, coordinate the volunteer effort and manage fundraising. The city of Apple Valley is encouraging residents and business owners to donate money — with a goal of $7,000 — to pay for 50 additional trees.

Bernstein and the city applied for the Tree Trust program, motivated by the need to create a buffer between the park and a new housing development, Spirit Hills, directly to the west.

Like much of Apple Valley, Quarry Point Park sits on a former quarry, meaning it was especially barren when the park was built in 2009. The city has planted some trees but would like more.

“Through mining or development, the land has been pretty much stripped,” Bernstein said. “So we’re looking to re-establish or set up an urban type of forest.”

Natural benefits

Nicole Greenson of Lakeville likes to visit Quarry Point with her three kids. It has indoor bathrooms and a playground that older kids enjoy, she said.

But she’s noticed its lack of a leafy canopy.

“Outside that pavilion thing, there are no big trees to shade you,” she said.

Shade is an obvious benefit of planting trees, along with aesthetic value, said Kim Lawler, Tree Trust’s spokeswoman. But trees have other benefits, from cleaning the air to cooling everything around them. They also soak up water and provide a habitat for wildlife, she said.

At Quarry Point’s planting event, volunteers will plant trees that are six- to eight-feet tall because that size has a high survivability rate and a reasonable cost, Lawler said.

Another part of Tree Trust’s mission is community involvement. The planting event offers a chance to get residents invested in the environment through volunteering. The group also employs youth by training them to do outdoor projects, like building retaining walls or timber staircases, she said.

Shakopee also received a Tree Trust grant to plant trees in September at Scenic Acres Park. Nearly every tree currently at that site is an ash, so the city is trying to diversify in case the canopy falls victim to the emerald ash borer, Lawler said.

Bernstein said he’s looking forward to planting so many trees at once, something the city couldn’t do without help.

“We feel 50 [trees] will be ok,” he said. “One hundred will be much better.”

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