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Residents challenged to support tree fund

The Excelsior Springs Parks & Recreation Department is challenging local residents to help make the community a greener place.

A special tree fund is about two-thirds of the way to an important milestone, and the quicker Excelsior Springs can reach that threshold, the more trees the community can get.

The Heartland Tree Alliance, a program operated by Bridging the Gap, is offering to match dollar for dollar all donations to the tree fund, and once the $1,000 mark is reached, the city can see direct results as a special tree planting day is scheduled to celebrate the accomplishment.

As of Monday, the fund was at $640. If local supporters provide just $360 more in donations, then the Heartland Tree Alliance will double the amount to $2,000 and see the money put to good use.

“This program is a great way for citizens to give back and help grow our tree canopy in Excelsior Springs,” said Parks & Rec Director Katie Noyd. “Every donation helps!”

“The Parks and Rec Department has a master plan for updating and maintaining the many parks in our community,” added Parks and Recreation Foundation President Christi Rice. “Earning funds through the Heartland Tree Alliance will stretch parks and rec’s budget further, allowing other projects to be completed.  One of our goals as a foundation is to assist in fundraising for the Parks and Recreation Department.”

To make things livelier, Excelsior Springs is in kind of a competition with other area communities who are already participating in the program. Other cities taking part include neighbors or near-neighbors of Excelsior Springs such as Liberty, Gladstone, Parkville and Platte County, plus some a little further away including Kansas City in both Missouri and Kansas, Belton and Raymore on the Missouri side of the state line, and Leawood, Lenexa, Mission, Olathe, Overland Park, Paola, Prairie Village and Shawnee in Kansas.

According to Heartland Tree Alliance spokesperson Noelle Morris, the tree fund is important because due to the recession and budget cuts in most municipalities, trees are literally “getting the ax.” The Heartland Tree Alliance and the Dunn Family Foundation are working to fill out the area’s tree needs by encouraging people to get involved in their own communities, then adding to those efforts through the matching grant.

The HTA will match donations all the way up to $10,000, so once Excelsior Springs reaches the $1,000 mark and has its first tree planting day, the challenge isn’t nearly over—then the community can begin working on its second $1,000 goal and a second tree planting day.

Bridging the Gap is the region’s primary environmental education organization. As a companion to the Heartland Tree Alliance, Bridging the Gap also offers a Tree Keepers program that trains volunteers from the Kansas City area to be “tree stewards” in their communities.

To donate to the Excelsior Springs tree fund, visit and choose whatever level of donations best fits your means and needs, then you can watch as the tree fund grows with other donations from others in the community.

By Eric Copeland •

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