LINCOLNTON, N.C. — A group focused on a clean environment planted 35 maple trees at East Lincoln Middle School Thursday.

The group, Keeping Lincoln County Beautiful, is made up of volunteers and part-time workers who aim to clean up litter, plant greenery, and help the county with green space.

Leaders with the group say in the last five years, 3,000 acres of trees have been cut down in the county to make room for new apartments, developments, and roads.

Jeanette Johnson, who is the director of the group, says trees are needed to filter water, help with shade, and cycle carbon dioxide.

"Much work needs to be done to plant and protect trees, which provide so many benefits. We are excited for our growing community and want to help replenish any tree loss," Johnson says.