- Associated Press - Saturday, December 9, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - More than 200 young trees have been planted over the last three years at the Springfield, Illinois, fairgrounds as part of a four-year donation program.

The replacement program began after hundreds of fairgrounds trees were lost to emerald ash borer infestations, age and storms, The State Journal-Register reported. It was created by the Illinois Green Industry Association of nursery and landscape companies.

Joe Khayyat, the association’s executive director, said the donated trees came from nurseries across the state. He said the call for donations came after the emerald ash borer was spotted in Springfield, including at the fairgrounds.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which oversees the fairgrounds, found 245 ash trees on the fairgrounds when the ash borer was discovered.

Cathy Ward, a plant and pesticides specialist with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said donations have allowed the agency to diversify the types of trees on the fairgrounds.

Trees donated to the fairgrounds have included swamp white oaks, Kentucky coffee trees and Austrian pines. The association’s plan was to plant 50 replacement trees per year, but that has been surpassed.

“When nurseries heard we were doing this, we started getting more trees, Khayyat said. “We started getting extra trees.”

The association plans to donate another 50 in 2018.

“We made a four-year commitment for 200 trees, and though we’ve exceed the 200 total, we’re going to keep the four-year commitment,” Khayyat said. “And the fairgrounds still needs more trees.”

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com


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