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Tree planting underway in tornado-damaged areas

Boys Scouts with Troop 473 from Rice and Troop 75 from Brainerd plant trees along Colfax Avenue in Wadena on Saturday, April 30.1 / 2
Ann Oldakowski and Molly Costin plant a tree at the Stinar Farm near Bluffton. The first week of May saw replanting for people who lost trees in the Otter Tail County EF4 tornado.2 / 2

Volunteers from local service groups spread out in tornado-damaged areas of Wadena and Otter Tail County to repopulate it with plant life.

Trees are have been replanted in the Wadena area, although they are precariously young. Anne Oldakowski, forestry technician at the Wadena County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), said it is important for landowners to water them for the first two years.

Trees For Wadena, also known as the Wadena Area Replant Project, had its biggest day on Saturday, April 30.

The night before was Arbor Day, and Boy Scout groups arrived to camp at Sunnybrook Park. Scouts were trained to plant a tree correctly, in spite of less than gorgeous weather.

"We did that in the rain," Oldakowski said.

The kickoff also was drenched in April showers.

Mayor Wayne Wolden spoke in the opening assembly, and the Rev. Del Moen led a prayer. Wadena scout leader Jerry Leverson led the Boy Scouts' flag ceremony.

On the whole, the Boy Scouts lived up to their motto. "They were very prepared," Oldakowski said.

The Scouts waited at the fairgrounds dairy barn and were disbursed to their assigned locations from there.

"The rest of the day was smooth sailing," Molly Costin of SWCD said.

It helped that the rain stopped at about 10 a.m.

Oldakowski said there were 12 troops and 140 scouts.

Along with the Boy Scouts, there were adult helpers and the co-ed Venturing Scouts.

Oldakowski said other organizations helped in the planting: Rotary, Lions and other service groups. Some were from well out of town.

About 1,900 trees were disbursed on April 30. Oldakowski said that number included many people who decided to plant on their own.

Starting Monday, trees were planted in the rural areas outside Wadena. The Conservation Corps of Minnesota pitched in to plant trees in east Otter Tail County farms.

"They're a lot of hard workers," landowner Fred Stinar said.

He said the landscape looked a lot different with the newly planted trees.

Oldakowski said there are more trees to be planted in Wadena, and Sentence to Serve will help in the project.

Mulch and tree tubes will be available at the fairgrounds for people who lost trees to pick up on their own.

"Take only what you need so that everybody can get some," Costin said.