Last week, the Wauseon Tree Commission, with the cooperation of the City of Wauseon Public Works and the use of a tree shovel, borrowed from Ironwood Golf Course, planted an American chestnut at Wauseon Primary School and Wasueon Elementary School. The five-year old trees were donated by Lange Tree Farm of Swanton.
Walt and Danuta “Donna” Lange have had an abiding interest in trees for over a half a century. They started with a 33-acre parcel in eastern Fulton County back in 1966. Of the 33 acres, 17 acres were tillable and two acres served as their home site. Over time, they established the Lange Tree Farm. Walt Lange retired as a math professor from University of Toledo back in the mid to late 1980s. Even in formal retirement, he did return to the classroom on a part-time basis.
Back in the 1960s, they wanted to to plant a windbreak to keep the sandy soil on their side of the road. “There is a photo of big equipment plowing the sand off County Road 3 and pushing it back into the field.
“In 1972, we planted our first windbreak along the county road. One purpose was to act as a windbreak in winter, to keep the snow from drifting over the road,” said Walt. “The other reason was to have plant and tree roots to anchor the sandy soil where it belonged.”
Through forest management, sound land management, additional land acquisition and assistance from Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Division of Forestry in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Langes have gained a solid reputation in the growth and stewardship of local forests. In 2010, the couple was recognized as the 2010 Ohio Tree Farmers of the Year.
Forest of Honor
This year, on Thursday, Oct. 10, the Langes were recognized by the Division of Forestry and were inducted into the Forest of Honor. There was a tree planting ceremony held in Zaleski State Forest near McArthur.
As part of the ceremony was this recognition by the Division of Forestry: “Walt and Donna Lange of Swanton are honored for their leadership among private woodland owner groups like the Ohio Tree Farm Committee. The Langes are avid tree farmers, and they tirelessly share their passion for woodland stewardship at the local, state and national levels. A tree is planted in the Forest of Honor for the couple’s outstanding promotion of conservation.”
While the Lange Tree Farm was never thought as a commercial venture, the Langes do enjoy sharing the message of land management. They are passionate of their love of the woodlands and have significantly raised the public awareness of forestry in private, public and urban settings. The Lange Tree Farm has hosted many school field trips, Boy Scout camping trips, local 4-H clubs, always sharing their passion for forested areas.
With his current interest in chestnut trees, Walt has planted a demonstration area in the Maumee State Forest near County roads 3 and C, in Swancreek Township. In the demonstration area, he has planted Chinese, Japanese, American, the restoration chestnut trees and the Allegheny chinkapin tree, which is part of the chestnut tree family. The restoration chestnut has been developed over 30 years of genetic research in Pennsylvania and is a hybrid of Chinese and American chestnut trees. It has been developed to be blight-resistant.
“A tree blight, discovered in 1904 in the New York state devastated the American chestnut trees,” said Walt. “The restoration chestnut has been developed to be disease resistant. It is exciting to try to re-establish chestnut trees to this part of the country.
“I have another plot of chestnut and Allegheny chinkapin trees planted in Harrison Lake State Park, near 4-H Camp Palmer,” added Walt. “Again, it is a similar to the
mix of chestnut trees I’ve planted in Maumee State Forest. These are beautiful hardwood trees that need to be added to the area’s inventory.”
Walt Lange coordinated with Jim Spiess of the Wauseon Tree Commission to make these recent plantings in Wauseon possible. The Wild area to the south of Wauseon Primary School has eight to 10 different trees and bushes planted in and around thick prairie grasses.