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Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Molly Costin of the Wadena Soil and Water Conservation District plants a tree on the property of Fred Stinar in Bluffton.

New growth in Bluffton where tornado struck

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Nearly a year after the devastating tornado that swept through the Bluffton area, Fred Stinar's property is starting to look a little bit more normal.

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On May 4, the Wadena Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) along with help from the Conservation Corps out of Park Rapids and local Sentence to Serve members helped plant trees on Stinar's bare land

"It took everything," Stinar said of the tornado. "It destroyed seven buildings and all the trees."

Molly Costin, with the Wadena SWCD, said the crew had been out from April 30 to May 4 planting trees throughout the Wadena and Bluffton areas.

Costin estimated that 2,000 total trees had been ordered, and 700 trees had been planted in the last three days alone.

Many of the trees had been bought with donations from local businesses, Costin said. Total donations amounted to nearly $65,000, she said.

For landowners affected by the tornado who weren't ready for tree planting this spring, the Wadena SWCD will be running similar tree planting programs next fall and the following spring, said Anne Oldakowski, also with the SWCD.

Oldakowski added that people who have received trees this spring should give the trees plenty of water throughout the season to ensure the trees take root.

"People have been really appreciative of the trees," Costin said. "When the tornado came, these people lost everything. It was just wiped clean. So they're happy to see things getting back to the way they were."

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