With its sights set on providing shade and natural beauty for future generations while protecting people and power lines in the present, the Directorate of Public Works is conducting a tree replacement program in the areas around the air assault track."Like our other infrastructure that dates from when Fort Rucker was founded as a post, a lot of our trees in our central core area are just aged, and as they age they become full of disease, wind damage and things like that, so we're conducting a project to replace them," said Joseph Wyka, DPW director.A lot of the mature oak and other trees in the area along Andrews Avenue and Third Avenue date back to the 1940s-60s, according to Wyka, and now is the time to take action in assessing all of them, picking which ones to remove and creating a replacement plan to ensure future Soldiers, families and employees can continue to enjoy the shade and natural beauty they provide."Trees are good neighbors -- we're excited about this project," he added.While tree management has been a post-wide continuous process pretty much since Fort Rucker's inception, Wyka said DPW Natural Resources staff began assessing the trees in the air assault track area in the fall and plan to start removing trees in earnest this summer.He expects to begin planting new saplings in the fall, and for it to be a multi-year project."We'll take out the old ones, cut them out, grind down the stumps and replace those trees," Wyka said. "It won't be an exact one-for-one replacement, but the intent is to leave it kind of looking like it was. So, we'll be taking out a tree that is 60 years old, and putting back maybe an 8-inch tree, so it'll take some time for them to grow back -- it's an investment in the future. The power lines will be safe for a few years -- some of those trees may not be planted exactly where there were trees before to ensure that."DPW officials are also looking at conducting a beautification project around the recreational vehicle storage area near the golf course, Wyka said."We're looking at maybe planting some arborvitae, which are tall, skinny evergreen trees, in that area to improve the view," he said.But for now, the main focus is on the air assault track area."That's one of our main post running trails, I run those trails, and that shade in Alabama is golden," Wyka said. "On top of just making the area more beautiful, those trees will provide shade in an area where we hold special events, such as Freedom Fest and others, and where units conduct physical training."If you want nice, mature trees in your cantonment area, you have to reinvest in them," he added. "Some people may ask, 'Why haven't we done this in the past?' Well, because we're right at that point in history where many of these trees are becoming a problem -- 20 years ago, they weren't a problem."