Delaware News

Student revitalizes city park with cache of trees

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Delaware Area Career Center junior Jens Spaglialunga is somewhat of a modern-day Johnny Appleseed.

A year ago, he planted thousands of tree saplings in five-gallon containers at his home greenhouse, and he's been replanting them across Ohio ever since.

Spaglialunga donated 58 of those trees to the city of Delaware, and with the help of city Watershed Coordinator Kristin Piper, spent a day late last month planting them along the trail and next to the wetlands behind Glenwood Commons.

"I take joy in re-establishing these trees that were there at one point," said Spaglialunga, who planted various types of native saplings, including bur oaks and swamp white oaks.

The trees are between six and eight inches tall. In about five years, they'll have grown taller than many of the Commons' visitors, he said.

Piper said she'd been looking to plant trees in the area because they help control pollution, which is a typical problem at the Commons due to dog waste. She said the trees also will help the air quality by decreasing carbon and increasing available oxygen.

Spaglialunga, who is in the Wetlands Management Program at the career center's south campus, said he took interest in trees and nature a few years ago and hopes to turn it into a lifelong career.

With all the trees he has left, he plans to continue to plant trees in Delaware and Carroll counties and, while he plans to donate many of them, he has sold some of them in bulk.

"People ask me if they just want a tree in their yard and I say, 'Yeah, sure, I'll come plant it for you,' " Spaglialunga said.

"It's very easy to grow your own trees," he added. "There are a lot of different trees that are out there that have all different characteristics that grow in this area, so if they don't want to buy trees, they should try to grow their own."

Last week, Piper organized a team of 13 residents who helped to plant 250 live black willow tree stakes along the east side of the Delaware Reservoir.

The tree stakes were donated by International Paper and were planted in an effort to secure the reservoir's banks. Piper said once the roots of the trees grow, they will hold the soil in place so sediment doesn't pollute the reservoir and clog up habitats belonging to aquatic life and macroinvertebrates.

Having community volunteers for such projects doesn't just make them more rewarding, it also makes the natural areas more likely to flourish, Piper said.

"Planting trees through a partnership typically helps the population take ownership of those trees," she said. "Jens was gracious enough to donate over 50 trees to this city park, and now the residents will hopefully help maintain this property to assist in these saplings' survival."

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