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“The boy who plants trees” plants 500 near Berkeley Springs

By Tom Markland, The Journal

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – A boy from Berkeley Springs, colloquially known as “The boy who plants trees,” planted around 500 at his home on Saturday, with the hope of improving the environment for his community.

Fifteen-year-old Jacob Villenueve, a boy with autism from Berkeley Springs set out last year with the goal of planting 1,000 trees, planting 200 last summer. He started the project after construction started for the US-522 bypass, when he saw the sheer number of trees cut down for the almost $70 million road.

According to an estimate by The Cacapon Institute before the bypass was started, over 100 acres of forest needed to be cut down for its construction.

In an effort to make the project even more sustainable, Villenueve is specifically planting trees that are native to the area, including various oaks and maples. In a twist of irony, Villenueve is also using mulch that was donated to him for the project made from the trees cut to build the bypass to help the new trees grow.

He funded the project with the help of a GoFundMe page, which raised $675 towards the project. Originally, only 100 trees were ordered for the project, but when the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District heard more about the project, they sent much more.

Villenueve says his ultimate goal is to reforest the whole property, totaling 17 acres, which he estimates would mean a total of 100,000 trees. He says that throughout his life, he hopes to plant over two million.

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