Arbor Day recognition kicks off landscape project


Lamont Kiefer, left, explains his trail landscape vision with TMS science teacher Steve Ewers and members of his science club. Also pictured are tree planting crew/club members. Herald photos Bob Kliebenstein

It's land without a plan.

Lamont Kiefer hopes that will change. He is seeking public input for landscape design for an approximate two acre parcel along the Tomah recreation trail just past Butts Park. Grasses, flowers or any other natural

Kiefer's announced his intent as part of the Arbor Day recognition with the Tomah Middle School science club. For the last 10 years students in Steve Ewers' TMS science club have planted trees at Tomah parks with assistance from the Tomah Parks and Recreation Department.

Generally the group plants one tree. Last Friday three autumn blaze maple trees were planted along the trail segment that is presently referred to as the Jones Stormwater Trail landscape project.

Kiefer said the project is spearheaded by the Lake Tomah Committee to enhance the natural beauty of the trail area. The Tomah Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments are assisting with the project.

In 2019 that section of the trail was re-excavated to improve drainage. But with input from the Lake Committee, Tomah Parks and Rec and Tomah Public Works a plan was devised to improve drainage and now its ability to serve as a natural pollinator, Kiefer said.

Ideas are being sought to name for the area. Jones Stormwater Trail landscape project is not that catchy.

"We are looking for a better name. Right now it's a little clumsy," Kiefer said.

They are looking for suggestions on site preparation, a simple layout of trees, shrubs, wildflowers or other pollinators for appropriate for the area, labor (actual assistance on site prep) funding donations. But the area is not being developed as a park. Its sole purpose is to provide natural landscape long the trail by aesthetic improvement.

There is a form available for those interested in helping with the project that allows volunteers to specify how they are willing to help with the parameters listed above. Contact Parks and Rec director Joe Protz at 374-7445 with any questions or to get a sign up form. They are asking forms be returned by noon on July 2 so a plan can be devised.

Organizers encourage assistance from adjoining property owners, the public, civic organizations, youth groups, teachers and classrooms, clubs, master gardeners.

The concept is simple, Kiefer added, create a landscape design that encompasses three basic elements; trees shrubs and wildflowers appropriate to this type of natural area.

"The intent is to encourage pollinators, not wildlife (raccoons, possums, skunks)," Kiefer said. No additions of trails, bumpouts, benches, raised beds or constructed amenities should be included."

These parameters should be considered in the design:
• Minimal low cost long term maintenance.
• Easy to mow with large mower 15'
• Large volumes of storm water runoff.
• No groupings to encourage wildlife.
• Provide some shade to the trail.
• Mowed buffers from landowners and the trail.
• Vegetable gardens are prevalent in the area.
• Four trees will be initially planted.
• Assistance in implementation is requested.

All name suggestions and landscape designs will be reviewed by the city of Tomah for final approval. Some funding is available. Kiefer said it has taken over one year to get to this point and he wants to keep momentum going forward.

Ewers envisions a possibility of science club students over a multi-year span being involved to provide maintenance for the trail section.

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