FORT KENT, Maine — An initiative by the University of Maine at Fort Kent will green up the campus and the community while also serving as a training exercise for college students.
Officials at UMFK said Thursday that the college and the town will receive almost 100 free trees next month. Provided by Project Canopy, a community tree program initiated by the Maine Forest Service, the balsam fir, white spruce, hemlock and red maple trees will help restore what animals and flooding have destroyed.
The trees were provided by Dutton’s Greenhouse and Nursery in Morrill, which plans to close at the end of the summer. The trees will be planted and maintained by the town’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation Departments and by UMFK staff. The college’s forestry and environmental studies students will assist them by monitoring the trees’ progression.
Balsam fir and white spruce trees will be planted along the riverbank at Crocker Beach to replace trees killed by beavers and to provide bank stabilization. Hemlock will be planted along Armory Road to replace dying pine and to increase cover. At present, UMFK has no hemlock on campus, so the trees also will serve as teaching specimens.
Red maple trees will be used for campus beautification and shade near Cyr Hall and along University Drive.
David Hobbins, professor of forestry and environmental studies at UMFK, said that the project would be a great opportunity for students in his field. He noted that his students would garner experience by planting and maintaining the trees. The trees also will be pruned and studied by students in several programs.
The town plans to plant donated trees throughout Riverside Park to replace those that were lost to significant spring flooding in 2008 and high winds over the past few years.
The remaining trees will be planted along a walking trail that winds through the park, along the St. John River, and in wooded and open spaces. Some trees will be planted alongside the parking lot and picnic areas.
“Collaborating with the university on this project will help to ensure the success of the plantings,” said Town Manager Don Guimond.
He credited Hobbins for pinpointing the appropriate species that would prosper in the region.
College officials said that officials at Dutton’s Greenhouse and Nursery decided to donate more than 1,000 trees to Project Canopy rather than wholesaling their remaining stock after the planned closure.
The donated trees include 75 different species which are being offered free of charge to municipalities, schools, and nonprofit organizations for community planting.
Project Canopy educates people about the benefits trees provide and how trees make people’s lives better. It is a cooperative effort of the Maine Forest Service and the Pine Tree State Arboretum.
For information on Project Canopy, visit http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/projectcanopy/.