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      There's no treasure behind these Xs

      Keokuk's Rand Park is one of the most popular sites in the community.

      It plays host to all sorts of events from historic re-enactments to family reunions.

      It is also known for its beautiful flowers and lush green trees.

      But some of the beautiful trees that cover the park are dead.

      Park manager Gary Stepp says that between 15 to 20 dead trees have been discovered in the park including a new one Wednesday morning that he thinks died over the last couple of weeks.

      Gary thinks that there are two main culprits that are killing off these trees.

      "The last three years have been pretty dry during the summer months," Stepp said. "We've also had some insect problems with our pine trees. We don't know what's really causing it but we're working on it, trying to figure out what's causing it but we'll have to take all those dead ones out."

      As Gary mentioned an, as yet unknown insect has really taken a toll on the park's pine trees.

      "We think it's some kind of insect drilling in, " Stepp said. "And then it leaves its larvae when it lays its eggs. And that's what kills the trees. All the pine trees we've found have these same holes around the trunks of them."

      Taking down the trees is also a challenge for Stepp, who because of state budget cuts, has a much smaller staff than he needs to care for the park.

      There's also the cost involved.

      "It's about $600 to take out a tree and a stump. It all depends on the weight when it goes to the landfill," he said.

      Also concerned about the trees in Rand Park is Keokuk Garden Club president Lucile Whitaker.

      The club would like to help pay for replacement trees to be planted in the park, but there is a significant cost involved there as well.

      "One tree is about $300 and if you get the extra things like the planting of it and the mulching and the root stimulator and so forth, it's another $300. So their not cheap," Whitaker said.

      She says the club hopes to pay for some of that costs through grants and fundraising opportunities.

      Both Stepp and Whitaker care about the trees in Rand Park and hope that something can be done to prevent any more from dying and to take care of any new ones that may be planted in the future.

      Another concern Whitaker has is making sure any new trees are watered.

      She and the garden club are working with the city to try and come up with a plan to make sure that any news trees are watered on a regular basis.