Goderich Tree Planting Underway

In the Aftermath of a Tornado: Goderich Re-Greening Began in November!
On October 21, 2011, Goderich experienced 12 seconds of horror as a Class F3 tornado ripped through the heart and centre of their small town of less than 10,000 residents located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. Since then, the Town has worked with The Planning Partnership to develop a master plan to combat lost tree canopy on public land. Certified arborist Michael Ormston-Holloway reports on this initiative that received a lot of press, especially in mid-November when truck loads of very large trees made their way into town. On a very different level, a little group – with lots of energy – called reTREEt America partnered with the Canadian TREE Fund and local organizations to undertake a massive tree planting initiative on private properties the weekend of Nov. 17-18.

Planting on Public Land (M. Ormston-Holloway)
In the wake of Goderich’s 2011 F-3 tornado, the Town was devastated and lost 90+% of its tree canopy. In the epicentre of the tornado path was Courthouse Square Park, the green jewel of the Town. A coordinated effort between the Town of Goderich and The Planning Partnership provided much needed optimism for residents, particularly during the last month as the park began its green transformation that included the planting of 60’ tall trees with 30’ spreading canopies.

I have been a part of significant replanting efforts in the Town of Goderich. We have worked through a master planning process, tendered landscape technical drawings, tagged large-caliper and very diverse species for the replanting, and have shared strategies for the reforestation of the Town. After a great deal of anticipation, the replanting process began November 10 with the delivery of trees and the real work began on November 12. We attempted to plant 8-12 large trees each day, taking a crew of four 3-5 hours per tree depending on the specimen.

Unlike perhaps any other municipality in Canada that has undertaken a tree planting program after a horrific natural disaster, Goderich is undergoing the most significant transplanting of large trees that I believe has ever occurred in this country, and certainly for a public project. We are planting more than 150 trees, categorized as 44 small, 93 medium and 20 large (go online for the complete list, see instructions below). The scale of size is perhaps what is most interesting. What we define as small trees are still 6” calipers and some are 20’ tall – keep in mind that small trees in most developments these days are closer to 2” and 8’ tall. Our 20 large trees have canopies that are often pushing 50-60’ with 30’ spreads on them.

Like people, older trees tend to be much more fickle and less tolerant to change. When you consider that tree roots extend well past drip lines, balling the roots and removing 75+% of them for transportation/transplantation causes an immense amount of stress to the trees, exponentially increasing their chance for failure. So, while we need to keep these specimens well watered, perhaps more critically, we need to feed them well. Not surprisingly, not only do these trees come with an unusually long warranty (which was critical for the Town to embark on such a potential gamble), they also come with an extremely detailed fertilizer program. And without dwelling too long on this subject, the park also gets a huge amount of attention paid to its soil, with air excavation to ameliorate decades of soil compaction from town vehicles, and significant soil amendments (determined by rigorous soil testing), so that the soil can actually support the development of these large specimens. Soil is so often overlooked, and paying this amount of attention to it (which is critical in my opinion), was a small victory as well. After all, without healthy soil, we can’t have healthy trees. For more information on the project, feel free to contact me.
— Michael Ormston-Holloway, Landscape Architect & Certified Arborist, The Planning Partnership, 416-975-1556 (ext. 245), mholloway@planpart.ca

Additional Material
Download the species list of caliper-quality trees...

Websites Referencing the Tornado & Replanting Efforts
PAO Nursery Goderich Webpage: http://paohorticultural.com/goderich-tornado/
Goderich Master Plan Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Port-of-Goderich-Canadas-Prettiest-Town/126036490759607

Planting on Private Land
The master plan for Goderich’s public lands has been well publicized and will have a huge positive impact on the town’s lost tree canopy – and moral in general. This story is about volunteers and residents. The Canadian TREE Fund partnered with reTREEt America to host a tree planting event on the weekend of Nov. 17-18. Also involved were two local groups, Goderich Trees on Saturday to plant 100 plus larger caliper trees on private properties in the downtown area, and Trees Beyond Goderich on Sunday to plant 700-800 trees on a rural property which lost an entire forest. Funding for the Goderich reTREEt came entirely from private sponsorship and all of the event organization and tree planting was done by volunteers with the trees planted at no cost to homeowners.

By Greg Hill. The weekend of November 17-18 is one that the good folks of Goderich will not soon forget as over 100 planters put 889 trees into the ground in an effort to improve the town’s urban and rural forest canopy. reTREEt America arrived in grand style with a force of 35 reTREEters and teamed up with the Goderich Trees Project and Trees Beyond Goderich to make it all happen. reTREEters came from as far away as Texas, New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana and South Carolina with a good showing from the Toronto area, including several board members from the Canadian Tree Fund.

Day 1: In Town
Saturday was spent planting large caliper trees in Goderich’s urban areas which were most devastated by the tornado in 2011. Teams of local residents and reTREEters were scattered throughout town to plant 109 deciduous trees, all provided free to the homeowner. Many of these people have lost everything and are in the process of putting their lives back together – rebuilding homes, dealing with insurance companies, living with friends, the list goes on. The outpouring of gratitude we received after planting their new trees made our efforts well worthwhile.

Day 2: In The Country
Sunday began with a bike ride out into the countryside to replant a woodlot that had been flattened and completely destroyed. Owner Dan Burns had recently bought the property as a retirement home. The healthy forest plot along the Maitland River was directly in the centre of the tornado’s path and Dan was devastated by his loss. Well over 100 reTREEters and local volunteers showed up to plant 780 contained trees throughout his six-acre woodlot. Dan was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the volunteers and the amount of work that was accomplished in a single day.

A Balanced Weekend
reTREEt America always ensures that there is a balanced amount of work and play during planting events. On Friday and Saturday nights, the local Legion gave us full use of their venue complete with free food and local entertainment. On Saturday night, we were invited to participate in the Santa Claus parade and we did so on our bikes. Although we were not quite as organized as the Shriners in their go-carts, I think we had an impressive presence none-the-less!

Join Our Ranks!
reTREEt America is doing a wonderful thing by replanting communities that have lost their trees to a natural disaster and I would strongly encourage anyone with a sense of volunteerism to join us on a reTREEt soon. Please visit the website or our Facebook page for details. 
— Greg Hill, Canadian TREE Fund Trustee & reTREEt America Director


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