A tree-planting event held in recognition of the tenth anniversary was a success at the Valentine City Park.
About two-dozen people attended during 5 to 7 p.m. on May 4th to help plant 58 catalpa trees, 18 bur oak and three honey locust trees. Chili-cheese hotdogs, chips, smours and refreshments were provided for an after work meal. Sponsors were the Niobrara Council and Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District.
Also featured was an interactive display of the extent of the fire and landscape features, as provided by the Nebraska Fire Service that was an opportunity for people to discuss the fire, its characteristics and even to convey some personal recollections. Also presented was information on establishing firewise communities.
Earlier in the day, kids associated the Valentine Middle School and Future Farmers of America assisted the MNNRD to plant 1500 trees and shrubs. The types placed on the burned upland north of the city park, were ponderosa pine, jack pine, sumac, black cherry, hackberry, black walnut, American plum and golden currant.
“Fifteen-hundred is a good number for the kids to get into the ground,” said Zac Peterson of the MNNRD.
The trees planted were from the nursery at Bessey Forest, near Halsey.
During the ten years since the fire in 2006, about 22,000 trees have been planted, said Peterson. There is an approximately 30% survival rate.
During the late afternoon and evening, a record was kept of the various bird species present at the city park. The result was twenty species:
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- Eastern Phoebe: associated with the two bridges
- American Crow
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet: small and stealthy along the creek
- House Wren
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Eastern Bluebird
- Swainson's Thrush: on the south side of the creek, towards the west end of the park
- American Robin: appreciating the lawn to forage upon
- American Goldfinch
- Audubon's Warbler: wonderfully numerous, especially along Minnechaduza creek
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- White-crowned Sparrow: two still lingering
- White-throated Sparrow: one readily seen near the pavilion
- Chipping Sparrow: most territorial, but a few in a flock
- Spotted Towhee
- Northern Cardinal: in shrubbery along the creek
- Hairy Woodpecker
Not seen nor heard was the typical Belted Kingfisher, though it was probably elsewhere because of the many people enjoying the fine evening at the park.