ELWOOD – Local arborists and horticulturalists will spruce up Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery next week as part of a volunteer project at the nation's veterans cemeteries.
Arborists at 27 national cemeteries will provide tree care in the debut of Saluting Branches: Arborists United for Veteran Remembrance.
The focus at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery will be removing dead trees and planting new ones, said Jim Teiber, the Joliet city arborist and site leader at the Elwood cemetery.
"There are a lot of dead ash trees that need to come down," Teiber said, noting the impact of the emerald ash borer infestation that has forced the removal of ash trees throughout the Midwest.
Teiber said he was impressed with the response to the program. Nurseries are donating trees and two companies are providing tree removal services. About 15 to 20 trees will be planted at the cemetery.
There has been high enthusiasm for the project on a national scale according to Julie Gann, a spokeswoman for Saluting Branches.
"The response has been overwhelming," she said.
About 1,000 volunteers are participating at 27 national cemeteries, Gann said.
Projects vary by cemeteries, and work includes pruning and tree care as well as tree removal and planting, she said.
The program was organized by Rainbow Treecare in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Gann said the company saw the need for the tree services three years ago after doing volunteer work at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.