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1,000 Trees Project Wraps Up This Saturday for McNeese, Sasol and Other Community Organizations

March 27, 2019 | McNeese Public Relations
Volunteers watch how to dig and plant tree species.

The 1,000 Trees in 1,000 Days
program comes to a close this Saturday, March 30, with the planting of the
1,000th tree at 10:30 a.m. in Tuten Park. A wrap-up celebration for
the community and volunteers will follow.

Since the
program began in 2016, 845 trees have been planted by 585 volunteers. Volunteers
are still needed for the planting of the final 155 trees, which begins at 8:30
a.m. Saturday with volunteers meeting at Tuten Park on Nelson Road.  Tree planting teams will disperse from there
to sites around the Lake Charles and Westlake area.

Created as a collaborative effort between McNeese State University’s Harold and Pearl Dripps School of Agricultural Sciences, SASOL and 11 other community organizations, 1,000 Trees in 1,000 Days began as a way to encourage indigenous tree planting and community beautification in Calcasieu Parish, according to Dr. Chip LeMieux, interim dean of the College of Science and Agriculture.

“This
program has been a great experience,” LeMieux says. “It has not only been a way
to give back environmentally and aesthetically, but also strengthens
McNeese’s ties to the community. We appreciate all the support
we’ve received from SASOL and the public, especially those that work in
local government, the parish and the city.”

Locations for
tree planting were evaluated based on a combination of the need for visual
enhancement, wildlife habitat, environmental health and community pride and
ownership. They also had to be open environments where trees could thrive without
direct or indirect care and without negatively impacting existing ecosystems.
Sites included schools, public lands and other green spaces like community
owned-parks.

LeMieux says the
project also provided McNeese agricultural science and natural  resource conservation management majors with hands-on
experience in performing soil tests and selecting tree species to be planted
throughout the project.

Funds provided
by SASOL were used to purchase trees, saplings and equipment and members of the
community were invited to take part in the planting effort.

“The community
really turned out to show support. Anybody and everybody volunteered,” LeMieux
says. “We had Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, SASOL employees, McNeese students, church
groups and people who just wanted to help out and plant a tree. It was
inspiring to see everyone coming together to leave a mark for the next
generation.”

McNeese students
were also responsible for providing check-ups on all the trees at various
monthly intervals. Over three years, about 27 different species were planted, including
Green Ash, Sawtooth Oak, Native Sweet Pecan, Persimmon, Magnolia and Flowering
Dogwood.

Although the
program is ending, LeMieux says McNeese students will continue to monitor the
planted trees and their environments as part of their plant sciences courses.

Those who have participated can also monitor the condition of their trees at http://manymeasurements.org/

For more information or to volunteer, call 337-475-5690.