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Tree groves stand as living memorials for generations with family

Tree groves stand as living memorials for generations with family

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NORMAL - When Turtle Grove living memorial of trees was started at Maxwell Park last fall, Mike and Barb Sallee purchased an oak tree in honor of their granddaughter, Emily Renollet.

Now the Sallees are taking advantage of a new grove planned north of Turtle Grove to purchase a tree for their second granddaughter, Leah, born a couple of weeks ago.

Eagle Grove is one of three tree groves planned this year by Partners of Children and Elders Forest. As founding member Joe Grabill originally hoped, two of the new groves will be in Bloomington. Winter Hill Grove will be planted at Ewing Park III and Windrow Grove will be at the Interstate Center.

"We thought it was a really unique idea," said Mike Sallee. "It helps the community and we can share it as a family. We plan to visit the trees with our grandkids and hopefully someday their kids can visit them."

Salle's story epitomizes what Grabill envisioned when he came up with the idea for the first grove of trees northwest of Parkside Road and Gregory Street in Maxwell Park. He wanted to help the environment and provide a place where generations could interact.

About 100 trees were planted at Turtle Grove in November. Each contains a tag with the name of the tree and the name or initials and birthdates of those honored by the tree. The new groves will be planted this November.

Winter Hill Grove will start on the top of a hill at Jersey Avenue and go down 40 feet to a branch of Sugar Creek.

"It's going to be a dramatic grove," Grabill said. It is in honor of the hill so many children have used for sledding each winter.

Grabill said slightly more than 100 trees are planned for the grove. The 17 varieties will include oaks, maples, American elm and cucumber magnolia. The grove was designed by David Lamb of Bloomington Parks and Recreation.

Dean Kohn, director of Bloomington Parks and Recreation, said he's looking forward to continuing the idea the next three or four years in other parts of Bloomington.

Meanwhile, Windrow Grove will be in honor of the trees farmers traditionally plant as wind breaks. The Interstate Center is owned by the McLean County Farm Bureau.

"The Interstate Center is very pleased to be a part of this program," said manager Mike McNeil.

Julie Collins and Tim Southey of Green View Design Group have volunteered to design the grove of nearly 40 trees and will help plant them. There will be 14 varieties of trees in the grove planned on the east side of the detention basin located east of the Interstate Center.

"One tree in every grove will be a bur oak," said Grabill. "It's the oldest living tree indigenous to the area. I consider them the 'living elders.' They're older than the United States."

There will be 33 different species in Eagle Grove, just north of the existing Turtle Grove in Maxwell Park. Choices will include American beech, black oak, yellowwood, black maple, black gum and paw paw trees. Grabill said more than 100 trees are planned. Bobby Jones of Normal Parks and Recreation Department is designing the grove.

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