Volunteers plant trees to better Illinois River

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Volunteers from Arkansas and Oklahoma are hoping their weekend work in cold temperatures near commercial development will help improve the water quality in the Illinois River watershed.

As snow fell yesterday, volunteers worked along streams at five locations, planting Arkansas native saplings along the banks. The sites, called riparian buffers, are undeveloped land that, when planted with trees and grasses, help prevent erosion and filter out sediment, pollutants and excess nutrients from the water supply.

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership organized the event involving 150 volunteers. They worked in temperatures in the 30s, using sharply pointed spades to plant sycamore, green ash and short leaf pine trees in triangular patterns.

Partnership volunteers monitor phosphorous and nitrogen levels at 37 sites along the river.

In June, the group will release a watershed management plan, highlighting troubled areas in need of replanting and repair.

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