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Replacing Trees Lost In Ice Storm

After losing hundreds of trees in last month's ice storm, the city of McAlester will begin to plant new ones this week. McAlester's Chief Gardner and Maintenance Supervisor recently drove to Florida and Texas to find new trees for the city. News On 6 reporter Chris Wright reports replacing all the trees that were lost will take a while, but the city is determined to replant.

Stumps are all that remain of a third of the trees at the McAlester Arboretum. Before the storm, the arboretum featured over 300 different specimens of trees, but damage from the ice forced city officials to cut down more than 90 of them.

"We've lost a lot of our specimen trees, so it's going to take a lot of time and money to replace them," said McAlester Maintenance Supervisor Glen Kerns.

The rest of the town resembles the arboretum; damaged trees and piles of debris are everywhere. Still, Kerns and Chief Gardner Sherman Miller hope the trees they will plant will represent a rebirth for McAlester. The replanting effort begins this week, with 50 green giants from Florida, along with 50 crate myrtles from Texas.

"If we can't find one we lost, add another variety,” Senior Gardner Sherman Miller said. “We're not giving up, we're going to replant."

Some of the trees will be planted in the arboretum; the rest will be placed next to city streets. That still leaves dozens of species of rare trees that need to be replaced at the McAlester Arboretum, but Kerns and Miller, who have been planting trees there for 25 years, say they are willing to make as many road trips as it takes.

"We have got to put them back because we have had a lot of people encourage us not to give up, too keep going and that's what we're going to do," said Kerns.

The city says it will cost as much as $20,000 just to replace the 90 trees lost in the arboretum. McAlester does not have the funds available to buy all the trees, so it is relying on private donations. If you are interested in making a donation, you can call city hall at 918-426-1269.
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