On August 22, 2017, more than 60 volunteers planted 350 trees at Belwin Conservancy’s Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields (LWBAF). The trees were purchased using a grant from the Super Bowl LII Urban Forestry Program, whose aim is to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl events and leave a positive, “green” legacy in host communities. The trees will serve as a windbreak and sound barrier from nearby Interstate 94, as well as provide habitat for birds and other species.
Belwin Conservancy is one of 12 Minnesota organizations to receive a grant from the Super Bowl LII Urban Forestry Program to fulfill a community need. The National Football League, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Verizon, Tree Trust and Andersen Corporation teamed up to donate funds to make the program possible. The Minnesota Vikings are also a partner and supporter of the projects. Tree Trust played a key role in identifying urban forestry projects for this Super Bowl community initiative.
Prior to the tree planting, Belwin Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Kafka told attendees about the history of Belwin and its various partners, including Stillwater and Saint Paul Public Schools, which bring students to Belwin for their science curriculum, and NorthStar Bison, which loans a herd of bison to Belwin each summer.
Local mayors Richard Bend (Afton) and Ted Kozlowski (Stillwater) spoke about Belwin Conservancy’s important role in the community. “I remember when the area that is now the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields was a place to bale hay. In Afton it’s incredible to have nature and this sports facility, where athletes can run, kick and play—and now will have a critical windbreak thanks to the planted trees,” said Bend.
“As shown through the athletic fields, Belwin steps up to provide what the community needs. Thank you, Belwin, for all that you do,” said Kozlowski.
300 Red Cedar saplings and 50 4-foot-tall Bur Oak trees were planted by members of the Saint Croix Valley Athletic Association, which hosts the area’s only youth football program, the St. Croix Soccer Club, members of Belwin Conservancy and other attendees.
“The trees were chosen for their hardiness and also because they’re meant to be here,” said Justin Sykora, Belwin Conservancy Land Manager. “The Red Cedar trees are sun, deer and wind tolerant, and the Bur Oak provide elevation and habitat for birds.”
At the conclusion of the event, lunch for the volunteers was provided by Colleen Danford and her son, Connor Danford. Colleen is the former manager of the LWBAF.
“We are thankful for the grant from the NFL and its partners, which will help us enhance the player and visitor experience at our Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields,” said Belwin Conservancy Development Manager Marta McCormack. “More than one million people have visited these fields since their inception and the trees planted today will be around for years to come, making this an even more enjoyable place to play at and visit.”
Minnesota will host Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
About the Super Bowl Environmental Program
The Super Bowl Environmental Program is part of the NFL’s sustainability platform. Carried out in partnership with the local Super Bowl Host Committee, Verizon and Andersen Corporation, the program aims to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl events and leave a positive, “green” legacy in host communities. These efforts include food recovery and distribution, recycling and solid waste management, urban forestry projects and the use of “green energy” to power events.