t was a clear-cut error: a state worker mowed down 28,000 young trees that had been planted as part of a $33,000 US highway beautification project. The only thing left behind were signs that read: Do not mow or spray.

"Shame on us. We wasted all that effort," Joe Rutherford, a spokesman with the Ohio Transportation Department, said Friday.

The oaks, ash, birches, maples and sycamores were planted in 2002 and 2003 at the interchange of Interstate 74 and I-475 near this Toledo suburb. The city, county and state paid for the seedlings, and volunteers put in more than 700 hours planting them.