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Group vows to 'Replant Englewood' after thousands of trees lost to Hurricane Ian

The tree advocacy group would be providing 1,000 mango tree seedlings to the community so people can plant them on their property.

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — Trees take decades to grow, but Hurricane Ian killed thousands of them in a matter of hours when it struck the Southwest Florida region six months ago.

In communities across the Tampa Bay area, along with the loss of many homes and businesses, the destruction of that many trees in one single natural disaster was devastating.

It has spurred some tree advocacy groups in Englewood into action. They are determined to keep their community green and restore the lost natural habitats by replanting trees.

"It was just the story that just kept coming up and we kept seeing all these trees down," Dena Kittelson of Englewood said. 

To help out, Kittelson started the program Replant Englewood.

Some folks managed to save some smaller trees bent over due to 155-mile-per-hour winds by holding them up with stakes but many others weren't so lucky. 

"Almost everybody I talked to who was a homeowner or even a business owner had at least lost one tree from Hurricane Ian," Kittelson said."I know here on our property we lost probably 10 trees and we have over 100 trees planted."

Kittelson has partnered with the Angel Land Food Forest charity to operate the tree planting program.

Along with providing frozen and baked food items to people in Englewood, the organization has begun to lead efforts to restore the vegetative landscape of Englewood by planting tropical fruit trees.

They would be providing 1,000 mango tree seedlings to the community so people can plant them on their property.

"The people can plant them anywhere in their yards. With the free community mango trees, they go in the front yards where people can take a fruit any time once it's on the tree," Jan Leather of Angel Land Food Forest said.

Kittelson said if people want to enjoy trees in the future, now is the time to plant them as they take years to grow.

"They eventually will get a mature, beautiful tree in place of the tree that they lost," she said.

The matured trees will not only be a vegetative canopy that would provide edible fruits and shade for people, but it would also be a source of food for different birds and small animals and a home for them.

"Squirrels, things that bring nature back into yards, especially with the huge massive damage that was done here with all the trees gone," Leather said.

The group wants people to take the initiative and be encouraged to plant any type of tree they prefer if they don't like the idea of a fruit tree in their yard.

"It's a beginning. To put this in, to put these trees in," added Leather.

The free trees are provided through grants and donations and the organization will hold a tree distribution event on May 20.

To find out more details about the project and how you can either get a tree or donate, visit this link.

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