More than 120 students, volunteers and city staff members trudged through thick mud to plant 165 new trees Friday at a community tree planting behind Casey Community Center in Gaithersburg.
The event was just part of a larger project stemming from a $71,628 grant from the Governor’s Stream Restoration Challenge that was awarded to Gaithersburg and the Audubon Naturalist Society. Five acres of trees at 11 different sites within the Muddy Branch Watershed will be planted by next fall to improve the stream’s water quality.
“The roots of the tree help to absorb water sitting in the ground and filter it, and it gets back into the stream much cleaner than if it were to just run right off into the stream,” said Adam Newhart, the city’s public works operations administrator.
Volunteers were divided into small groups and assigned a section of trees. To save time, Newhart said, the Department of Public Works prepared for the planting by digging the holes, setting the trees and removing their wire netting. He was pleased with the turnout.
“To expose this number of people on one site and one day is beneficial for everybody,” he said.
Muddy Branch Alliance President Paul Hlavinka said the stream’s water quality has deteriorated since 2008, a problem he attributed to an increase in development. He said he hoped the planting would encourage others to join the cause and plant new tree in their yards and other communal spaces.
“This is kind of a shining light in the community of something that could happen elsewhere,” Hlavinka said. “So involving the community and show people how to do it, what the benefits are ... Hopefully, that expands out in to the community.”
Gaithersburg staff already have planned a second community tree planting, Nov. 1 at Malcolm King Park.