Taking root: Volunteers plant trees to help beautify Lee County

— More than 80 trees and shrubs are taking root at the intersection of Summerlin Road and Gladiolus Drive thanks to the effort of volunteers Saturday.

The group of 22 volunteers planted five species of native Florida trees and shrubs as the first installment of an ongoing beautification project in Lee County. The project is a partnership among the Lee County Department of Transportation, the Florida Division of Forestry and the Lee County Roadway Landscape Advisory Committee to fill pockets of the county with vegetation.

The workers filled vacant land next to the intersection’s water retention pond with South Florida slash pine, red maple, pop ash, pond apple and bald cypress.

With bits of dirt mixing with the sweat on her forehead, 5-year-old Makayla Cash of Cape Coral worked alongside 82-year-old Fort Myers resident Glen Hildebrand as the group methodically executed the plan.

Joe Sulak, Lee County roadway landscape manager, said the project will benefit the community with carbon dioxide sequestration, temperature cooling, and the filtration of air, water and noise pollution. The vegetation will also foster a home for wildlife.

“We are really making it more livable,” Sulak said.

Sulak, Florida Division of Forestry Senior Ranger Mike Weston and employees of Gulf Coast Palm & Tree led the volunteers in the project.

“Some of us won’t be around when these plants mature but it’s an investment in these future generations. Maybe we can bring our grandkids here in 20 years,” said Sulak.

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