Lehigh Valley

Neighborhood bands together to replant trees

Neighborhood bands together

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An Allentown neighborhood that's been uprooted by years of severe weather is on a mission to restore what's been lost.

"One of the reasons why I wanted to live in the neighborhood was the trees," said one resident.

But many of the old trees in Allentown's west end toppled, bringing chaos to the beloved canopy.

"I felt we were losing something that is very valuable," Ellie Laubner said of the October 2011 snowstorm and Hurricane Sandy.

"We were awoken to the sound of chain saws. You'd see five beautiful old trees being cut down," Rebecca Bowen recalled.

More than 100 mature trees were lost throughout the neighborhood, so in March 2012, Rebecca Bowen and the Rose Garden Neighborhood Association decided to do something about it.

"Eighty years ago, people who established this neighborhood had the foresight. They planted thousands of trees, and every street, every street was lined with trees," Bowen said.

To preserve the legacy, the women relied on old maps and tree experts to replant the neighborhood.

"The trees are in the same family," said David Walker while pointing at a red maple.

Walker, of Walker's Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County, has planted close to 200 new trees at a cost of about $4,000, all paid for by local homeowners like Amy Douglass.

"It's important to raising a family. It's important to keeping up a city," Douglass said.

It's been said that he who plants a tree loves others beside himself. Just change the pronoun and you have the mission of the women of the west end.

"You have trees. People go out walking, see each other, talk. It's safer. It builds community" Bowen said.

The group has another tree planting set for this fall.

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