Grange Park is looking a little different this year.
It is always sad to say farewell to these stalwarts that provide us with shade from the sun and protection from the rain, but we had to cull about 15 trees from the grounds.
The Centre Reporter, Centre Hall’s newspaper, noted that the first act of the Grangers, after their purchase of the acreage that began our park, was to plant trees. For some of our trees, the subsequent improvements in the park have contributed to soil compaction, which led to their demise.
The construction of buildings, the digging of ditches for water and sewer lines and the paving of midways and roadways have reduced the pore space, and that deprives the trees of oxygen.
Another culprit affecting our trees is disease, specifically vericillium wilt, which is caused by a soil-borne fungus, and maples are extremely susceptible.
The trees planted in 1890 were all maples. Planting one type of tree was common at that time. However, we now know that makes the spread of disease very easy, and the fungus stays in the ground. That is why we do not immediately replant where a tree has been removed. It also explains why we are planting other types of trees — Zelcova, little leaf Linden, London plane, sycamore and oak, to name a few.
The emerald ash borer also has infected and killed our ash trees. The larvae feed on the tissue of the tree that carries nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves, and when this is destroyed, the tree dies.
The last enemy of our trees is Father Time. Trees do have a natural life span, and as they age they become more vulnerable to all these culprits.
But, as Grangers, we are mindful of being stewards of our park. Each year we evaluate the trees, have limbs trimmed and plant new trees. We strive to use new varieties with resistance to disease and insects. We plant carefully and try to care for the new saplings.
We recognize those who donate trees to our park, and this year, McDonald’s will sponsor “Sweet Tea for Trees” on the first Thursday of the fair. The company will donate 50 cents from each sweet tea sold.
I hope our dear fair patrons will be sweet and support this program so that we can plant at least 15 trees. Anyone who would like more information should contact me at 364-1495 (home) 235-1110 (office) or firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also hyperlinked on the Grange Fair website under Fair Committee Members.
Tree Committee chairwoman