LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s been 20 years since the last tree was planted in Van Dorn Park, but on Saturday, that all changed. The spot became the site of 30 new trees.

“Van Dorn Park is a gem that just needs polished up,” said Diane Walkowiak, Volunteer, Van Dorn Park Advocate.

It was a brisk early morning, but that didn’t keep a dozen volunteers from getting their hands dirty in spots all around the park.

For most of the 2000s and 2010s, it was overlooked, but now Van Dorn Park has a new lease on life thanks to volunteers like park-enthusiast Diane Walkowiak. She and her husband moved into the Indian Village Neighborhood eight years ago.

“Shortly after that, I discovered Van Dorn Park was in need of some attention,” Walkowiak said. “So for the past five years, I’ve been working on helping rejuvenate this park.”

Walkowiak was drawn to the park by her love of nature and the park’s rich history dating back to the 1920s. A couple years ago, the park got a brand-new playground, but Van Dorn Park’s aging trees were becoming brittle and snapping in the wind.

“Part of it is a very natural setting for trees,” Walkowiak said. “So when you start losing dozens of trees just in the last five years, it’s important to renew the trees.”

Volunteers planted a mix of deciduous trees sourced from wholesale nurseries and provided by Lincoln Parks and Recreation. They’ll bring diversity to Van Dorn’s Canopy, making for a better habitat.

“This planting today was to just add some diversity to the tree canopy,” said Kaylyn Neverve, Park Planner at Lincoln Parks and Recreation. “We have a lot of deciduous trees that are being planted: everything from serviceberry, catalpa, cottonwood. we just want to diversify the tree canopy here.”

Neverve said fall’s non-extreme weather makes it the perfect time to plant trees and the 30 saplings will get watered throughout the year.

Walkowiak said she sees the planting as an investment for the future, hoping the little saplings will one day grow into canopies.

“Some of us will probably not see these trees in their maturity, and it shows a dedication towards Lincoln as a community,” Walkowiak said. “Our confidence that people in the future will benefit from our work.”

If you’re interested in planting trees at a local park, you can reach Lincoln Parks and Recreation at (402) 441-7847.