200 New Trees Added Along Cape Roadways
More than 200 trees were planted in southeast Cape Coral over the weekend as part of an ongoing initiative to keep the Cape green as development continues.
Non-profit volunteer organization Future Forestry saw 50 volunteers, including 25 from Cape Coral High School’s Key Club, turn out last Saturday to plant hundreds of trees at the southeast corner of Country Club Boulevard and Veterans Parkway.
For more than 14 years, Future Forestry Founder and Executive Director Russ Ringland has played a role in thousands of trees finding new homes in the area.
“I get really busy when we get started planting, but occasionally I get a break and look out over a big area where everyone is working — and despite politics or this crazy COVID year, I feel a relief that we are making steady improvements in our community,” Ringland said.
Future Forestry’s mission is “to rebuild the forest canopy and in the process clean the air, water and make a great home for other native plants and animals.
“In the 1960s and ’70s Cape Coral, Florida was cleared of most of the natural tree canopy for the development of residential lots. The process of digging canals to raise the average elevation disrupted the area’s natural foundation and soil.”
Ringland said he especially enjoys projects where local youth get involved.
“What I like the most is showing younger folks that in just a short time they can change their environment for the better,” Ringland said. “It may not mean much at the time of the planting. They may even be reluctant to work a solid three hours. But over the next few years as they continue to watch the steady growth of the trees, hopefully they feel very proud of their work and feel more connected to their hometown. Parents tell me that their kids remember exactly where and which trees they planted and point them out as they drive by.”
Other than giving off plenty of clean oxygen, trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the Earth, and helping it soak into the soil. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways, reduce storm water runoff, and lessen flood damage. They serve as natural filters to protect our streams, rivers and lakes. Trees also provide shade for animals to protect them from the heat and help supply the entire food chain in a variety of ecosystems.
“There are many good reasons to plant trees covering a spectrum — from how they help the environment to increasing real estate values,” Ringland said.
He said Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Burnt Store Road offer a large area that needs trees. Ringland said he works closely with the Lee County Department on Transportation to review specific locations and types of trees.
“We also spend a lot of time reviewing maintenance of planting areas,” Ringland said. “There is a tremendous amount of work that goes with the trees for years after they are planted. Over the last 14 years it’s really changed from planting a few little groves to a full blown urban forest.”
As for how long the growing process takes, Ringland said trees planted 15 years ago are now 30-feet tall — some other varieties 60-feet and taller.
“I expect 30 years after we started there will be some huge trees,” Ringland said. “Forestry is a constant process where trees are constantly dying and being replaced. There is room for another 50,000 trees in Cape Coral’s Urban Forest along Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.”