Fonner Park

Sophie Parr maneuvers a wheelbarrow Saturday while helping adults who were planting 70 trees and shrubs on the grounds of Fonner Park, which is home to the Nebraska State Fair.

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — About two dozen tree and shrub planters gathered Saturday at Fonner Park to help with the Re-Tree the Family Fun Zone project.

The goal was to plant 70 trees and shrubs.

Terri James, an extension educator who oversees the statewide Master Gardener program, gave a hands-on demonstration on tree selection, tree planting and tree care.

In 2016 the emerald ash borer, an insect that destroys ash trees, was starting to appear in Nebraska.

“There is no confirmation of it in the Grand Island area yet, but it is likely to come,” said Jaime Parr, the Nebraska State Fair facility manager.

“We are trying to be proactive by planting small trees this fall. In the next three to four years those trees will be larger, in case we do need to remove some of our ash trees.”

Volunteers planted 20 species of trees to improve the diversity of the greenery in the Family Fun Zone. They planted two native trees to every non-native tree.

Parr said she has been “trying to green as much of the fairgrounds as possible” since the fair came to Grand Island.

“Sometimes we take baby steps, but this is a pretty big baby step,” she said about Saturday’s project.

Parr said the Family Fun Zone, which is by the Nebraska Building, is one of Fonner Park’s greenest areas.

“It is where we have the most shade,” she said. “We want to make sure the area is not without shade.”

Along with the 30 trees, 40 shrubs also were planted Saturday. Two-thirds of those shrubs are native to Nebraska.

Project partners are Nebraska Extension Master Gardeners, the Nebraska State Fair, the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Grand Island Tree Board. State Fair volunteers also were helping out.

Funding for the project came from a Greener Nebraska Town grant, a program that helps improve the landscapes of Nebraska communities.

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