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Riverboat releaf.

Groves of historic trees--delivered by paddlewheeler-- will soon grace a group of Old Muddy flood towns.

HISTORIC paddlewheelers bring to mind images of high-stakes gamblers and the stories of Mark Twain. Now they're adding a new role: bringing relief for communities that lost trees to the great midwestern flood of 1993.

The full extent of the destruction left behind after the Mississippi River finally receded may not be known for many months. No one can put a price on the suffering caused by the loss of homes and loved ones as the river burst levees and roared out of its banks. Hundreds of trees fell victim, too--swept away by raging currents or submerged for months and literally drowned.

"They suffocated--the roots had no way to get oxygen," said Thomas Kroll, staff forester for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Now some help is being floated to eight flood- damaged communities, courtesy of the New Orleans-based Delta Queen Steamboat Company. The company felt the flood's effects: High water prevented its paddlewheelers Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen from cruising the upper Mississippi for more than two months last summer.

"Our boats couldn't get under bridges and into St. Louis from early July until mid-September last year," said company official Patti Young, "but we were able to reschedule other cruises on other rivers. Those flooded communities had no options. So we wanted to find a way to help them overcome some of the losses they sustained."

The steamboat company announced in October 1993 that it would sponsor the planting of a 20-tree Historic Grove in eight communities where the paddlewheelers stop on regular cruises. These include: St. Louis and Hannibal, Missouri; Dubuque and Burlington, Iowa; Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin; and Wabasha, St. Paul, and Winona, Minnesota.

The trees will come from AMERICAN FORESTS' Famous & Historic Trees program, which provides direct offspring from a variety of individual trees connected to famous people or historic sites. The program also advises on suitable trees for a particular area.

Beginning this fall and continuing until next spring, the company will donate groves of Minuteman River Birches and Mark Twain Cave Bur Oaks to each of the eight communities.

Last October the Mississippi Queen visited each city, bringing a symbol of things to come. In riverfront ceremonies, Captain Lawrence Keeton and Cornel Martin, the steamboat company's vice president for corporate affairs, presented officials with a Certificate of Authenticity and a Minuteman River Birch. The groves of saplings will be delivered by paddlewheeler on a "fall foliage" cruise.

To purchase Famous & Historic Trees to honor a loved one or to learn more about the program, contact Famous & Historic Trees, AMERICAN FORESTS, P.O. Box 2000, Washington, DC 20013.

PAM SELBERT--covers environmental and resource issues from her St. Louis, Missouri, home.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Delta Queen Steamboat Company sponsors tree-planting
Author:Selbert, Pamela
Publication:American Forests
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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