BY GAIL CHASTANG
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - A Berea-based ecology group will come to Northern Kentucky University next month to distribute seedlings and saplings to replace trees damaged in the Flood of '97.
To reserve trees
Call toll-free at (888) 858-7577, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Ecology Crossroads Arbor Day Program will be at NKU's campus May 8 through May 11 to distribute more than 600,000 bare-root seedlings and saplings. The event is sponsored by Cinergy.
''Our employee volunteers will work two-hour shifts all four days packaging and distributing trees, as well as manning a Cinergy booth to provide company information,'' said Patti Vincent, Cinergy's employee volunteer coordinator.
Organizers say the young trees will also be made available to homeowners or residents outside flood areas, who want to plant them in the Northern Kentucky region.
Homeowners and area residents can reserve 10 to 25 young trees per household; schools and community organizations can get more.
Among those available: pines, firs, maples, dogwoods, and more.
Advance reservations by telephone are required to receive specific tree assortments through this program.
All participants will receive free garden seeds, fertilizer samples, and five blue spruce trees.
The seedlings and saplings to be distributed have been inspected and certified by local officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure quality, organizers say.
''We established these programs when we discovered we could save millions of quality tree saplings from being destroyed by tree farmers who must clear their surplus trees to make way for next year's crop,'' said Jeff Busdieker, Ecology Crossroads' events coordinator.
In the past, Ecology Crossroads has helped North Carolina re-leaf the communities devastated by Hurricane Fran and has provided trees to the public in Lexington when they lost thousands of trees during an ice storm in 1995.
These efforts, along with other Arbor Day programs, have distributed nearly 10 million free trees to communities across the nation.
Organizers are seeking a donation of up to $1 per tree to help Ecology Crossroads fund the program and provide additional trees to community groups and local schools.