Gahanna-Jefferson students took home 1,750 trees last week, thanks to a donation by the Rockies Express Pipeline, which has an office in Gahanna.

Gahanna-Jefferson students took home 1,750 trees last week, thanks to a donation by the Rockies Express Pipeline, which has an office in Gahanna.

"It was a natural fit because of the location of our office," said Allen Fore, director of community relations for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, one of three companies that worked on the Rockies Express Pipeline.

The trees were left over from the pipeline project a 1,679-mile natural-gas pipeline that was built between Rio Blanco County in Colorado and Monroe County in Ohio. For the past three years during construction, Rockies Express Pipeline has had an office in Gahanna.

Fore said that as part of the project, the company planted thousands of trees in an effort to restore the land under which the pipeline was buried. After the planting was finished, the company realized it had too many trees left over seedlings that needed to be planted soon.

Fore said the company contacted the Gahanna-Jefferson school district and was pleased to find out the schools would help distribute the trees so they could be planted and not go to waste.

"We gave them to the kids, who can get them in the ground," Fore said. "These do have a shelf life."

Fore said many trees also were donated to children in Fairfield and Muskingum counties and other areas in Franklin County.

The trees went to three schools in the Gahanna-Jefferson district: 650 to Middle School West, 450 to Blacklick Elementary School, 550 to Chapelfield Elementary School and 100 to Royal Manor Elementary School.

The donated trees are worth an estimated $3,850.

"I think it's great that community business partners can help us teach kids about being environmentally responsible," MSW principal Brett Harmon said. "One of the goals in our Gahanna-Jefferson graduate profile is to teach students to be responsible community members. It feels good when local businesses reach out to help us work with kids and to provide a local example of responsible business practices."

Fore said it was nice to see the children excited about taking the trees home, saying it reminded him of when he planted a tree as a child and that he now looks at the enormous oak tree it has become.

"We were thrilled to work with the schools on this and glad we were still in a position to get the trees planted," he said.

The pipeline is one of the largest natural-gas pipelines in North America, according to company information, and will carry 1.8-billion cubic feet of gas. It cost $6.8-billion to construct and was a collaboration of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Sempra Pipelines & Storage and ConocoPhillips.

lwince@thisweeknews.com