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ST. LOUIS - If you've driven near the Gateway Arch recently, you've seen a lot of the changes taking place.

This summer, hundreds of ash trees on the Arch grounds will be removed, threatened by a deadly green beetle, and 800 London Plane trees will take their place.

The trees are being cared for at the 420 acre Hutty Tree Farm and Nursery about 80 miles west of St. Louis in New Florence, Missouri.

Long Island, New York tree care specialist James Sottilo is a member of the Arch grounds design team. He will log a lot of frequent flyer miles traveling from New York to New Florence until the London Planes are planted.

"The key is finding this many trees that are of equal size, equal shape, equal health altogether," he said.

The Hoette farm is just a temporary nursery for the eight to 10-year-old trees. They were actually grown at a nursery in New Jersey and that meant quite a journey. Truckload after truckload of trees traveled 1,000 miles cross country to the Hoette Farm.

"Being transported this far and being held in a temporary nursery for two years has never been done before," said Sottilo.

"It's going to create this cathedral like approach to the arch that's going to be really beautiful," said Ryan McClure, communications director for CityArchRiver, the organization in charge of the massive Arch renovation project.

No species is perfect. In Europe Plane trees are dying because of black fungus. Could the same happen here?

"Black fungus is not really known to survive in this region so it's not really an issue," said Sottilo.

CityArchRiver says the trees that will be planted at the Arch grounds are a different variation than the European trees that are dying from black fungus.

Dr. Hank Stelzer, a tree expert at the University of Missouri, told NewsChannel 5 that black fungus has not been an issue in Missouri, but has been detected in other states.

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