QUINCY -- In November 2007, a newly formed organization started planting trees in a campaign aimed at rebuilding the towering canopy of shade trees along Maine Street.
Ten years and more than 1,000 trees later, the Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program has left a lasting mark on the ?city's landscape.
"And we're still going," noted Barb Cantrell, one of the group's founders.
Cantrell and other volunteers involved since the beginning say they are pleased to see the positive effect the program is having on the city's appearance and fall foliage.
"I can't say enough about it," she said. "It's been such a wonderful venture in all directions."
The program's initial goal was to fill in the empty spaces along Maine Street -- from 12th to 24th -- caused by the loss of hundreds of trees from windstorms, ice storms, diseases and droughts over the previous century.
Once that initial goal was accomplished, the program branched out. More trees were planted farther out along Maine and down 24th, 18th and 16th streets, and other side streets in the East End Historic District.
State Street also became the site of ?numerous plantings. The group also planted trees at scattered locations around Quincy at the request of residents who heard about the program and wanted a tree of their own.
Then came the devastating windstorm of July 13, 2015, which toppled many of the oldest and largest trees in the city.
The Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program immediately stepped in and started replacing many more trees that were lost along Maine Street and elsewhere in the historic district. The group also replanted numerous trees in Quincy parks -- most notably Madison Park.
"That park lost a lot of trees," recalled Anne St. John, who played an instrumental role in creating the Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program.
St. John, the longtime chairman of the Quincy Tree Commission, said Trees for Tomorrow not only replanted many trees in local parks and along city thoroughfares, but also planted about 60 trees on the grounds of the Illinois Veterans Home after the 2015 windstorm. All those trees were bought through local sponsors.
Over the past 10 years, St. John said, the not-for-profit organization has planted 1,037 trees while raising $263,000 from the sale of trees and memorial markers. Many of the trees are now producing explosions of color at locations across the city -- particularly along Maine Street, where so much effort has been made to restore the canopy.
"It's done very well," St. John said. "I can't believe some of the trees we planted 10 years ago on Maine Street. They're already really big."
Christie Dickens, who has been active with the organization from the beginning, said the program's impact is apparent to anyone driving down Maine Street. Numerous trees bearing ribbons or the organization's distinctive logo have been ablaze in rich fall colors.
"Maine Street is amazing. It's incredible," she said.
Dickens said the Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program has helped beautify the city and has served as an educational tool for local schools.
Dickens, now principal of Blessed Sacrament School, was working as an assistant superintendent for the Quincy School District when the Trees for Tomorrow program started. She recalls how every public school in the district planted trees, and many students got involved while learning about the value of trees and how they benefit the environment.
"Schools would always name their trees," she said. "We planted a tree here at Blessed Sacrament last spring with the Trees for Tomorrow initiative and had some students be very interactively engaged in the planting and nurturing of it. The tree was planted in May, so the students named it May."
Lee Lindsay, who also helped start the program, said one of the benefits of the Trees for Tomorrow campaign is that it led to an agreement to plant shorter-growing trees in locations near overhead power lines to avoid future conflicts between tree branches and electric wires.
"Those trees won't have to be butchered and turned into V shapes because they're getting in the way," Lindsay said. "Looking to the future, that was a good thing to do."
She said she's pleased to see how the canopy along Maine Street has been gradually coming back with the help of the tree-planting campaign.
"We decided something needed to be done, and something was done," Lindsay said. "It's amazing how beautiful it is."
John and Candy Scott also got involved in Trees for Tomorrow from the outset.
"I think it's been very successful," said John Scott, a Quincy physician.
Scott said he was glad the tree-replacement group was operating at full speed when Quincy lost so many of its oldest and largest trees in the devastating 2015 storm.
"God works in wonderful ways," he said. "The windstorm got rid of all the dead and dying and hollow trees, and all of a sudden you come up with replacements. I believe the Lord deserves all the praise and glory for that."
St. John said the work of the Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program is far from over.
"Our goal is to keep filling in around the city (where trees have been lost), and that's going to be a big job," she said.
St. John said she is especially concerned about the potential dire impact on Quincy's 10,000 ash trees from a recent infestation by the emerald ash borer -- a bug that's relentlessly killing ash trees across the country.
"We're going to be losing a lot more trees," she said. "The ash borer is here. Any ash trees that haven't been treated are going to die. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. That will be a great loss to our tree canopy in the city."
St. John is committed to maintaining Quincy's reputation as an outstanding Tree City USA community. In 2009, Quincy was named the No. 1 Tree City USA growth community in the nation based on a point system. The achievement was primarily because of the Trees for Tomorrow program.
"We need people to recognize the value of trees," St. John said. "They're not just there to look pretty. They do so many good things for us."
The Quincy Trees for Tomorrow program sells trees for $280 each or more depending on the size. Bergman Nurseries will plant, fertilize, wrap and mulch any trees bought from the company for the program, and the trees will be watered for the first year. People who buy trees also have an opportunity to memorialize a loved one with an engraved memorial stone that can be affixed to the ground near the tree. For more information, visit the organization's web site, treesfortomorrow-quincy.com/