LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A new piece of green space was unfurled on Thursday in honor of London and Laurel County’s observation of Arbor Day.
The Whitley Branch Wetland Restoration Area on Ky. 229 played host to over 70 first graders from Bush Elementary on Thursday morning, who helped plant about 500 new seedlings of northern red oak, eastern redbuds, persimmons, and swamp white oaks in the process.
“This is a heck of a final field trip,” said Jeannie George, a teacher at Bush Elementary who will be retiring at the end of the year. “We couldn’t have picked a better day to be out here.”
The students were joined by Mayor Troy Rudder, who related stories about growing up near the area at which the Wetlands are placed, as well as workers from the Forestry Service and Water Department. Bush students placed seedlings every six feet along a tributary of Little Laurel River.
According to John Strojan of the London Tree Board, the Whitley Branch Wetlands Project is something all London residents can get behind and support.
“Everyone can get behind a project when it comes to green space,” Strojan said. “Not a lot people like big government, but this is big government in action. This is tax dollars at work.”
According to Public Works Director Steve Edge, the approximate 65-acre property hosting the wetlands was purchased in 2012 by the city of London by way of a grant intended to help clean the water table and water supply. The project originally started as a way to protect the city of Corbin’s drinking water.
As the project made headway, officials involved believed it would be beneficial to also include educational facets.
“We plan on putting in walking trails, outdoor classrooms and other things like that,” Edge said. “We’d like for students to be able to do biology projects at the Wetlands and still help Corbin.”