Volunteers and local workers make a difference as drought threatens Joplin’s newly planted trees

Every year, natural disasters strike communities often resulting in a dramatic loss of trees that subsequently weakens the community’s environmental sustainability, economy, and sense of place.

Photo Credit: NPR.org

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Disaster Recovery Campaign is a structured response to the destruction caused by disasters in communities across the nation.   By collaborating and organizing with key state and local partners, the Arbor Day Foundation “facilitates the distribution of trees to citizens in communities in need.”

After the severe damage caused by the EF5 tornado that tore through Joplin in May 2011, a variety of organizations banded together to plant nearly 7,000 new trees in the devastated city.

Through a joint initiative with the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, the Arbor Day Foundation developed the Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign.  This campaign distributed 12,000 trees to residents in four Joplin-area locations.

Foundation officials have described the Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign as an effort to restore Joplin’s precious and beautiful tree canopy to what it was before the May tornado.

An NPR news article details that, “sturdy varieties such as oak, sycamore and redbud — trees that can withstand strong winds when they’re taller” have been planted throughout Joplin.

In spite of all the progress made through the combined efforts of local and national supporters, Joplin’s young, newly planted trees are now struggling to survive a different environmental threat: drought.

Tom Meyer, manager of Carson Nurseries in Springfield, explains that young “trees are especially vulnerable to the drought.”

According to Meyer:

Freshly planted trees are real reliant on human beings taking care of them.  They need to water right at the root base, and there’s very little root structure beyond what was just planted. They can’t bring in residual water from farther out.

Fortunately, students on mission trips, volunteers and other workers from around the Joplin area have formed “bucket brigades,” toting heavy, five gallon buckets of water in the searing heat to around 562 young trees planted in Joplin parks.

Photo Credit: Joplin Globe

Thanks to these efforts and the perseverance and dedication to the restoration of Joplin, Ric Mayer, Joplin’s tree coordinator, estimates that presently, less than three percent of the newly planted trees will not survive.

The battle for the trees’ survival is not yet over.  Mayer believes that if the volunteers keep at it, there is hope for saving most of the trees in Joplin parks, but volunteers tend to be in short supply through August and September.

Any volunteers who want to water the trees in Joplin’s parks are welcome.  Homeowners are advised to not neglect their newly planted trees as well.

If you would like to donate to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign and help Joplin in its efforts to restore and maintain its tree canopy, please click here.

The following “before and after” photos portray the destruction caused by the May 2011 EF5 tornado that went through Joplin.

Photo Credit: Daily Mail


Communication Intern


  1. Gentlemen and Ladies,
    I have your survey but I have no intention of sending it through the U.S. Mail. I have my reasons.
    I went to your web site to do the survey.
    There is a problem with it that I feel you should address.
    You do not allow the survey without giving a donation.
    That is not a true survey.
    You offer free gifts for a $10.00 donation.
    Hummmmmmm free for just $10.00.
    That is really stupid.
    1. I don’t want your gifts.
    I do not need any trees. I’m surrounded by them. Give them to someone who lives in wall to wall houses on postage stamp lots.
    I’m sorry for them but I can’t help them. I wish everyone could live in the woods without a neighbors house in site.
    That is how I live and my five acres could be improved on only by making it 50 times larger with me in the middle of it.
    Actually I would contribute but I’m in a very serious Obamanomics financial slump.
    I would have done the survey but I’m not able to donate right now.
    I however do think a few of your questions are a bit senseless.
    I grew up in the deep woods in thee hill country of Texas. We played a game called tree tag.
    Ran on horizontal limbs to jump as far as possible to other limbs.
    We had an area we called Buck Eye flats.
    It was an area of approximately four to five acres of various trees with a heavy layer of grape vines. The vines are why we didn’t get killed!
    I now live on only 5.35 acres in the edge of the Sam Houston National Forrest.
    I have a huge population of almost every kind of tree native to S. E. Texas.
    I have many, many Magnolia trees from seedlings to 35 ft trees.
    Any one who would like seeds or very small plants I’ll be glad to ship some for the cost of shipping only.
    I have both ever green and others. I can’t tell one from the other except in the winter when the leaves drop. I have a very large ever green version in my back yard. It produces a huge load of cones each year.
    It is a little short of normal due to last years dry spell. However it appears there will be a pretty good supply.

    Let me know and I’ll be glad to pick up the cones with ripe seeds and ship to you for cost.
    Come and dig up your own small tree and I’ll be glad to give them to you.
    Please contact me via this email address if you want to come to dig your own. Do not just drive up and start digging. I might not be very nice!
    Being a bit benevolent I’ll send you 10 to 20 seeds in a small envelope.
    Send me the envelope with pre paid postage and I’ll send the seeds when they are ready.

    Pete G
    Cleveland, TX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *