Celia Kelley Pine Forest to be featured today during Home and Garden TourThe forest features 9 acres of more than 80 evergreens, a couple natural hiking trails and plenty of deer and wild turkeys.
By: Emma DeJong , The Daily Republic
It isn’t a well-known place in Mitchell, but it is well loved.
Just across the road from Lake Mitchell is Celia Kelley Pine Forest — 9 acres of more than 80 evergreens, a couple natural hiking trails and plenty of deer and wild turkeys.
The forest is one of the six locations being featured today on the YWCA’s Home and Garden Tour.
“It’s a natural area, and a lot of the neighbors here have been working on it,” said Mike Kuchera, one of the residents near the forest.
The $10 bus tour will leave from the YWCA at 5:30 p.m., and along with the forest, it will showcase three residential gardens and two homes.
The Celia Kelley Forest will be the first stop, unless enough people sign up to require multiple buses.
One reason the forest was selected is because of the community involvement that made the forest a welcoming area. In the past couple months, both the Mitchell Gardening Club and residents near the forest have put many, many hours into the area, according to Kuchera.
A short way into the forest is an opening that now has a picnic table, benches, chairs, a birdhouse, decorative rocks and flowers.
Kuchera, who has helped clear the nature trails, said 15 to 20 volunteers filled five pickup loads to clean out the open area.
Members of the Mitchell Gardening Club planted several kinds of flowers, including day lilies, henand-chicks, and a yucca, said Carole Festvog, a club member.
“It’s a beautiful place to go have lunch,” Kuchera said.
The Celia Kelley Forest is attractive because of its preserved natural beauty, but it’s also intriguing because of its history.
Kuchera said the evergreen trees have been planted along North Harmon Drive since 1932 — when Celia Kelley dug them up from the Black Hills and replanted them in Mitchell.
“She kept and watered them in those dry years of the ’30s,” he said. “You’re talking about a dedicated person.”
And Kelley was a dedicated person in other ways, too. In 1925 and 1926, she served as one of the first female South Dakota legislators — and the first elected mother. She was also the first female member on the city park board in Mitchell. Tour members will get to hear about some of Kelley’s history today at the forest. Kaylee Nicolaisen, director of the Mitchell YWCA, said as people load the buses tonight, there will be snacks and beverages available, as well as information from other local non-profit organizations. Tickets are available at Coborn’s, County Fair Foods and at the YWCA.
This is the first year that the tour is of both homes and gardens — not just homes.
Festvog said she is happy the tour has added gardens — especially the Celia Kelley Forest. She said not many people know about it. In fact, the only reason she does is through the gardening club.
“We just want to let people know that it’s out there, and that there’s a place for them to go,” she said. “They really could take a picnic lunch with them.”
Kuchera said there isn’t much to change in the forest, as its natural beauty is the nature itself. The one thing they want to work on, he said, is more trails.
Evergreen trees live at least 500 years, he said, so they have plenty of time.