Reforestation with Pines & Pollinators

Posted May 30, 2019 by Sarah Elam

The Cincinnati Zoo’s Family Community Service program is back in action at Cowan Lake State Park. Families and volunteers came together to plant Virginia pine trees, to sprinkle wildflower seeds on the earth, and to pot herb seedlings.

Volunteers planted Virginia pine trees at Cowan Lake State Park. Photo: Shasta Bray

Last fall, volunteers partnered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to plant 100 hackberry trees to help reforest the Cowan Lake State Park campground where many ash trees were lost due to the invasive emerald ash borer. This month, we came back for the second phase of this reforestation effort and spent the morning planting Virginia pine trees and pollinator plant seeds.

Trees provide the very necessities of life itself; they clean our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities, and feed the human soul, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Do you ever wonder how trees directly benefit our lives–besides being so beautiful to look at? Click here to read some of the amazing ways trees benefit the earth, our lives, our communities, and wildlife.

Wendi Van Buren, a Regional Urban Forester with the ODNR, led our volunteers in tree planting. Photo: Shasta Bray

Sadly, the emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle, has spread to 33 states and killed millions of ash trees. To date, the ODNR has planted more than 6.5 million trees to bring back Ohio’s forests.

This tree planting and seed spreading event was part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Party for the Planet: Spring into Action campaign. AZA institutions across the nation are engaging communities in making a difference for the environment through this initiative.

Thank you so much to our ODNR partners, Wendi Van Buren, a Regional Urban Forester with the ODNR Division of Forestry, and Mandy Wolski, a Naturalist with ODNR. Their knowledge of forest ecosystems and their passion for the environment were amazing guides for our volunteers while planting these pines and pollinators.

Learn more about the Zoo’s Build a Better Home for Wildlife initiative and see how you can support local wildlife in your own backyard!

Interested in joining the Zoo’s Family Community Service Program? Sign up here!

The Cincinnati Zoo Family Community Service Program. Photo: Shasta Bray