By Don Corrigan
Missouri’s bottom lands were once filled with tall trees and abundant wildlife supported by a sprawling tree canopy. Much of this natural area has been replaced by rows of corn and soybeans.
An organization called Magnificent Missouri wants to bring back a bit of yesteryear’s natural setting. It’s a project called “Trees of Treloar” and will focus on planting native Missouri trees near the Treloar Trailhead of the Katy Trail north of the meandering Missouri River.
“The Trees of Treloar will become a place to promote Magnificent Missouri’s goal of reforesting areas along the Katy Trail by planting trees along the trail route. This will be done in cooperation with Forest ReLeaf,” said Dan Burkhardt, the force behind Magnificent Missouri. “Trail users will love the shade and beauty, and pollinators and wildlife will appreciate the new habitat.”
“We could not do this project without the help of one of the best arborists in St. Louis, Bill Spradley of Trees, Forests and Landscapes, as well as one of the area’s best growers of native trees, Mike Rood of Pea Ridge Nursery in Hermann,” added Burkhardt. “They provided their expertise – and the trees – to create this unique arboretum area in the Missouri River bottom.”
Before being cleared for today’s farm fields, the Missouri River bottoms area was filled with large pecan, oak and sycamore trees. The “Trees of Treloar” will bring back the old stalwarts along with fruiting trees like serviceberry, persimmon and pawpaw.
The fruiting trees were once an important source of nourishment for Native Americans and the early settlers. Lewis and Clark’s expedition, which used the Missouri River to explore America’s new lands of the Louisiana Purchase in the Northwest, relied on those pawpaws for sustenance.
The new “Trees of Treloar” will provide shade and beauty for the many Katy Trail users, who often bike through wine country to Marthasville, Treloar and onto the Jefferson City area. At Treloar, they will experience a friendly habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and observe runoff control for a healthy watershed.
“Riders and walkers on the Katy Trail are going to be able to experience the Peers Prairie and the Trees of Treloar along a short but beautiful stretch of America’s longest cycling and walking path,” Burkhardt said.