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Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign expanded to include Windsor-Essex County


by Sylene Argent

submitted photos

Recently, the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign, originally designated for the stretch of the 401 between Trenton and Toronto, has been expanded to include communities outside of this memorial roadway area.

  Through the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign, there is a goal to plant two million trees in honour of every service man and women who volunteered to serve Canada in all of its conflicts; 117,000 of those trees will be planted directly along the Highway of Heroes corridor to signify one tree for every life lost in the line of duty. The remaining 1.8 million trees will be planted in other communities along the 401 between Windsor and Cornwall.

  Mike Hurley, Executive Director of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign, said the memorial tree planting campaign was expanded because a lot of interest in the program was generating from outside of the traditional Highway of Heroes area.

  “We didn’t feel it was right to tell communities they could not be a part of the memorial,” Hurley said.

  To date, there has been a lot of uptake through the Forest Ontario’s Private Landowner Partnership Program. Through this program, and in connection with the Highway for Heroes Tree Campaign, an increase was implemented for the program’s subsidy.

  This partnership, Hurley said, reduces the cost for landowners to plant the trees to as little as ten percent. The reduced cost has had some program participants plant more trees than they originally planned. 

The preference, Hurley said, is that properties be 2.5-acres, but lots as small as one-acre are being considered.

  Properties in communities as far away as 30kms from the 401 can be considered for the program.

  Landowners, Hurley said, can put up signage that explains the significance of the tree planting program.

  The idea for the project began around six-years ago when representatives from several Greater Toronto Area Trees for Life groups sat down together to talk about planting trees in urban areas and concerns regarding the decline of urban tree canopies, Hurley explained.

  Shovels hit the ground in the fall of 2015, which officially kicked off the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign. A tree was planted at either end of the traditional Highway of Heroes thoroughfare.

  Since, 130,000 native trees have been planted to date. The right type of tree is selected for the right place to ensure they are given the best chance at survival, Hurley said.

  “It is a nice way to have a living memorial,” Hurley commented, adding the benefits of this program certainly include environmental factors, as well.

  Those interested in participating in the program can log onto hohtribute.ca or forestontario.ca

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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