An environmental scientist, Matt Leisses will happily plant trees just about anywhere.

The York City man is particularly passionate, however, about a local gem of a park where the fall foliage is gorgeous but the age of the trees is wearing its canopy thin.

"It's really one of the jewels we have in York County. It's just beautiful," Leisses said. "If we don't act now, future generations aren't going to get to experience that."

This weekend, Leisses will host more than 100 people who have volunteered to help him ensure a colorful future at Farquhar Park and Kiwanis Lake.

Anyone is welcome to show up at 8 a.m. Saturday and help.

Leisses, 34, said he's wanted for years to put some money into planting new trees at Farquhar Park. Many of the trees there are old and dying, he said.

But funding sources have been hard to come by.

Paying for them: That finally changed this year with a $12,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Leisses said he's secured another $12,000 through in-kind and monetary donations from other sources for a total of nearly $25,000.

"The community's really chipped in," he said.

This weekend, about half of that money will pay for 85 new trees rooted in Farquhar Park. Leisses said he's hoping the new trees provide additional habitat for the birds that nest in a rookery around Kiwanis Lake.

"We want them to stick around," he said. "We want the populations to flourish."


Later this year, Leisses said, he'll use what's left of the $25,000 to organize another tree planting.

That one, he said, will include Martin Luther King Park.

When it's all done, Leisses said he expects York City parks will have about 200 new trees.

"This is a step in the right direction," he said.

-- Erin James may also be reached at