ReLeaf-ing Kearney Happens One Tree at a Time

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

ReLeaf Kearney

The goal of Kearney's ReLeaf campaign is to get residents to think about the benefits of planting a tree.

Alan Roesler says that besides shade and protection from the wind, trees offer shelter for urban wildlife, have health benefits, and can actually be financially rewarding.

"A nicely landscaped home is going to sell for a higher price, a rental unit that has some landscaping generally can rent for a higher price," says Roesler.

For Kearney citizens who plant what Roesler calls "a street tree," they can also get reimbursed through the ReLeaf program for 50% of the cost of the tree up to $100.

"We define street trees as within 20 feet of the curb, so whether it's on the actual city right-of-way or it's on private property, as long as it's within 20 feet of the curb we will see a benefit as far as the street tree once it's a mature tree," he says.

Officials say that developing areas in Kearney need trees too, and the ReLeaf campaign is helping some new Kearney schools like Buffalo Hills Elementary get started.

"We don't have any landscaping currently, so this is really our first tree and it's going to be such a memory builder for the 4th and 5th grade kids," says Buffalo Hills Principal Chelsea Feusner.

Students helped Kearney Parks plant their school's first tree on Monday.

"I joked with some of the faculty up here that we brought an English Oak tree because all the math and science oaks were in class," Roesler says.

Jokes aside, Roesler says the English Oak will compliment native Burr Oaks already growing in the area, and he told students a diversity of trees is always best.

Students say they already know how trees help them at home.

"We're facing the north side of town and it blows in a lot of wind and stuff, so we put trees out in our front yard," says student Jacob Nieveen.

The school say their tree will be joined by others someday, but say it's the act of planting that will leave an impression on their kids.

Student Kennedy Cobb says she'll come back and visit their special tree.

"[I want to] see how tall it's gotten," she says.

"As the tree grows our students grow and our school will grow as well, so it's a great symbol of the future for us," says Feusner.

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