Joplin homeowners can receive free trees and planting help

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JOPLIN, Mo. -- For many people who were in the path of the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado, recovery will be a long process. As health issues, property damage and other personal matters become resolved, many homeowners are turning their attention to restoring trees that once shaded streets and homes. Assistance is available for these homeowners through a new program.

Volunteers and staff from the City of Joplin and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) are planting free trees for residents who have applied to receive trees through Priority ReLeaf, a program of Forest ReLeaf of Missouri that is designed to help storm-affected areas statewide. In Joplin, Priority ReLeaf is partnering with the City of Joplin, the City of Duquesne, MDC, Rebuild Joplin, and AmeriCorps. Thus far, tree-planting efforts in Joplin have focused on parks and other public areas. This program shifts much of the city’s re-foresting efforts to residential areas.

“People are moving back into their houses and we can help those houses become homes by planting trees,” said MDC Forestry Recovery Coordinator Ric Mayer.

It’s hoped that 2,000 trees planted between now and next spring as part of this effort. Trees will be planted through next March as weather permits.

Applications for these trees are available at the Joplin Parks and Recreation Administration Building, 3010 W. First St. (417-624-6937), or the Duquesne City Hall, 1501 S. Duquesne Road (417-781-5085). Applications can also be filled out online at