The University of Toledo received the trees, native to this area, from the partnership between the Toledo GROWs program and the Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District, dubbed GreenCorps. This project is in conjunction with the President’s Commission on the River and the UT grounds crew.
The Toledo GROWs program is a community outreach effort of the Toledo Botanical Gardens dedicated to the continued growth and success of community-based gardens in northwest Ohio.
“The program is designed to not only continue the growth of gardens in the community, but also to continue the growth of at-risk students,” said Abbie Sackmann, a Toledo GROWs representative. “We work with youth from communities that have relatively high unemployment and dropout rates to provide necessary job training skills, such as being on time and developing a good work ethic, while fostering an appreciation for nature and conservation.
“Our goals in this project include creating a healthier water supply by reducing flooding and water pollution by planting native trees with deep root systems along the flood plane of the Ottawa River,” Sackmann said.
Planting gardens helps build a connection; if you help something grow, it makes you feel more connected to that area, said Dr. Hans Gottgens, UT professor of environmental sciences and a member of the President’s Commission on the River.
“We want students to be proud of our campus, especially the things we are doing to restore and beautify the Ottawa River and its surrounding areas,” Gottgens said. “These trees will help stabilize the river bank, provide habitat, mitigate floods when the roots take up water, and help improve water quality when the roots take up nutrients.”
The species of trees planted include sweet gum, red maple, spicebush, sycamore and American chestnut. The trees, which will range in size from 3 feet to 8 feet tall, were planted in various areas on Main Campus: by the bridge near the Center for Performing Arts, the Savage Arena overlook and the new Student River Plaza.