A gift from a local nursery operation is making things a little greener this spring at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
Mozingo Park Manager Grant Evans and his crew have spent the past few days planting about 40 oaks and sugar maples donated to the 3,000-acre recreation area by Don Hollingsworth, who operates Hollingsworth Peonies southeast of Maryville.
Evans said Hollingsworth delivered the saplings after digging them up to make room for additional horticultural projects at the commercial flower farm.
It was a welcome gift, he said, since increasing the tree count at the city-owned lake is a stated goal but one that, at least for now, isn't supported by a lot of funding.
Evans said the young trees, which are five or six feet high and budding with early spring leaves, have a total value of between $1,000 and $1,500.
Along with the saplings, Hollingsworth and the Maryville Garden Club also donated several ornamental plants and shrubs left over from the club's annual spring sale. Locations for the new plants are still being scouted
Most of the saplings have been planted in the recreational vehicle camping area on the east side of the lake, where Evans said they should begin providing at least some shade in the largely treeless area after about five years.
Just about everyone agrees that Mozingo, which contains large tracts of open pastureland, needs more trees, but at present the park lacks a long-term forestry development plan. Coming up with such a blueprint is a project Evans is eager to undertake, possibly in conjunction with Northwest Missouri State University.
One piece of that proposed partnership will go into place this summer when an unpaid student intern is to work on improving wildlife habitat at the park, especially along the lake's largely undeveloped northern arm.
A second intern has also been engaged to develop and improve programmed activities for Mozingo patrons.
"It's something we are trying to develop now," Evans said of a sustained Mozingo forestry initiative of the sort that has remained largely dormant since the lake was developed in the mid-1990s.
At that time, Evans said, workers set out 41,000 seedlings in the north part of the park on both the east and west sides of the thousand-acre lake. Grass and brushy plants meant to serve as wildlife cover were also planted at about the same time, but little has been done since.
"There needs to be continued management with that, with wildlife habitat" Evans said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for those students."