Newspaper feature writerBettendorf, Iowa
Trees Transform a Street
When Alma Gaul turns off Bettendorf's four lane thoroughfare and enters her neighborhood, the world around her changes. The noise, lights and bustle of the city are left behind. "It's like driving into a park," says Alma. "It's calm and quiet – very surreal."
Alma and her neighbors are the beneficiaries of far-sighted city officials and developers of long ago. When the area was transformed from cornfields into houses, they planted oaks, maples, river birches and a diverse mixture of other species along the streets of the development. Alma appreciates the results.
"Trees make my neighborhood," she says. The trees are now so large she can no longer put her arms around them.
Carrying on the tradition is 'Trees are Us,' a dedicated group of volunteers that work under the direction of Bettendorf's Parks and Recreation Department. In cooperation with the city's tree board and supported with funds from the local utility, corporations and gaming authorities, more than 2,000 trees have been added to Bettendorf's streets.
'Trees are Us' volunteers also help with the care of older trees and preserving the kind of heritage that makes Alma's neighborhood so special.