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Hundreds of wrong trees need removal from Portneuf Wellness Complex

In theory, maple and pine trees would be ideal for creating a beautiful landscape across the new Portneuf Wellness Complex, which is exactly what everyone thought during the landscaping phase of the project.

However, out of the numerous contractors and project managers involved in designing the facility’s landscape, nobody predicted the unexpectedly wet and windy conditions that hit eastern Idaho hard this year, which was too much for those trees to handle.

Bannock County Events Director Aaron Greenwell said the county wasn’t involved in the landscaping or design aspects of the facility, however, its the county’s responsibility to keep it maintained. Now, the county’s responsible for footing the bill to have 180 of those dead trees replaced.

“It’s a large cost to replace all of the trees which we will do as we get money to do that, unless we receive funds in another way,” Greenwell said.

Greenwell said they are already operating on a tight budget with only 11 employees who maintain all of the grounds that fall under the county’s jurisdiction – including the Wellness Complex.

With nearly 40 acres of grass, 502 trees, 1,132 shrubs and flowers, and over 20 miles of irrigation pipe, it takes more manpower pulling more hours than what the current staff is stretched to.

In early May, Greenwell called upon Bannock County Extension Horticultural Assistant Robert Pitman to inspect the trees to see which ones could still be salvaged.

Pitman said part of his assessment was to cut into the tree to see if the bark was still green inside.

“It’s not uncommon to see this loss percentage when you have this magnitude of trees in one facility,” Pitman said.

Greenwell added, although the maple trees would be a beautiful addition to the complex, they can’t handle the harsh weather conditions until they’re more established. Right now, the struggle is to just get them to that point.

In the meantime, the county has already started replacing the dead trees with other maples, considering now the timing would be helpful for their growth. Greenwell said they’ve also considered replacing some with poplars and elms, although those tend to not be as esthetically pleasing as the maple trees, once full-grown.

This year, Greenwell added, the county has hosted more than 550 events at the events center, and more than 200 at the Wellness Complex, which skyrocketed numbers from four years ago by nearly four times the amount.

The first concert of the summer will be June 16 at the Portneuf Wellness Complex. Click here for their concert lineup:

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