Growing opportunity available for residents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002

The tree distribution for Mower County through the Soil and Conservation Office will be on April 18 and 19 this year. There is still time to order trees through the office. Planting trees is an investment for our future and the future of our children.

Because so many people take advantage of the trees that can be ordered through the Soil and Conservation Offices in Minnesota and throughout the United States. the forested acres in the United States are growing. One-third of the United States, is covered with trees. According to a handbook on planting trees that is available through the DNR, this is about a 70 percent of the forest that existed when Columbus discovered America. Almost a third of the forests are set aside in permanent parks and wilderness areas.

Rick Morrison of the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation Office says, " More trees this year will be planted in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The government is trying to cut back on the huge surplus of corn and soybeans. More farmers have buffer strips to prevent erosion and pollution run off. Trees are planted in these buffer strips."

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Planting trees helps with global warming. The carbon dioxide emitted from trees counteracts global warming. Trees help clean the air and cut down on pollution emitted from cars and trucks. Trees are vital for wild life to flourish and provide protection from the elements as well as food.

"Planting trees brings wildlife back to our area. We need more pheasants and they need the coverage of brush for winter coverage. we all need to plant more trees, " said Morrison.

Besides the benefits of wildlife, trees provide protection from the wind. Windbreaks protect the homesite in rural areas and reduce energy consumption for the home. Besides helping humans and wildlife, windbreaks can reduce stress on livestock, improve weight gain, and reduce mortality of young animals. Windbreaks can provide additional income from wood products, tree crops and fuel wood.

Roger Slindee of rural Brownsdale planted a windbreak to the north and west of his property five years ago. The trees he planted are black spruce and red dogwood.

"My trees are for the future. The spruce were all two feet tall and bound at the bottom when I purchased them through the Soil and Water office. I planted 85 trees in one day with help from a young fellow I hired. We were tired at the end of the day," recalled Slindee.

Slindee kept the trees watered all summer and soaked them down in the fall. He gives the trees a fertilizer that comes in pellets that is ten percent potash, ten percent nitrogen and ten percent phosphates once a year. He lost only one of the 85 trees he planted.

The most popular trees that are planted are techny arborvitae. Black hill spruce which is what Slindee planted, are great for windbreaks. A popular hardwood that grows quickly is green ash.

Morrison said, "The green ash trees we distribute are seven feet tall and only cost $3.00 a piece. They are a hearty tree."

Planting trees is a big job, but one that pays off in the long run. Trees can be planted by hand or with a tree planter. A beginner can plant about 500 trees in one day with a planting bar. These trees are very small and not as big as the trees Slindee planted on his property. Slindee had to dig a two feet deep and a two feet wide hole for each of his trees. A tree planting machine can plant 4,000 trees in one day with a crew of two or more. There are local vendors that can be contracted to do this job if you are unable to do it yourself.

"As far as keeping trees watered, if we have a dry spring they will have to be watered thoroughly. You can drown a tree too. If the soil is damp around the planted tree you don't have of worry about watering it,&uot; said Morrison.

To learn more about planting trees the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation Service has pamphlets available that will guide you through tree planting step by step.