The North Platte Natural Resources District has successfully completed yet another year of delivering trees to communities within their district, thanks to the Free Trees for Fall Planting program, an effort of the Nebraska Forest Service and the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.
This fall, 502 trees have been distributed to 46 communities throughout all of Nebraska reaching a total of 64 different organizations. The North Platte Natural Resources District partnered with Nebraska Forest Service Community Forester, Chrissy Land to distribute over 70 of the total 262 trees that were distributed west of HWY 83.
“The North Platte Natural Resources District has been participating in the fall planting program since 2013 with successful projects throughout almost every community within its district,” said Todd Filipi, Resource Conservation Coordinator of the North Platte NRD. “The program has been a great way to involve and educate the public on the many benefits of tree planting while also promoting diversity and providing the community with trees for the next generation.”
John Berge, General Manager of the North Platte NRD added, “This year’s program was an excellent success and highlights the excellent partnership that we share with the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) in helping to distribute these trees around our District. We look forward to continuing to provide this service in conjunction with NFS for many years to come.” Free Trees for Fall Planting is supported by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Trees for Nebraska Towns Initiative funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The continuation of the Free Trees for Fall Planting Program is dependent on available funding each season. The application process is typically open from June 1st and closes July 31st and is operated on a first come, first served basis. Trees are then distributed and planted throughout the month of September into early October.
Despite providing a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits, most Nebraska community forests have been in steady and sometimes dramatic decline. Many challenges contribute, including extreme weather, insects, disease and lack of diversity. The emerging pest, Emerald Ash borer is one of the latest major challenges added to the list.
In an effort to stop this decline and increase community forest resilience, the Free Trees program grants up to 10 high quality trees for tree-related educational events and community celebrations promoting trees and fall planting.
In addition to simply planting more trees, the program goals include increasing appreciation and awareness of the value of community forests in Nebraska. Special emphasis is placed on species diversity and higher impact projects, especially street tree planting and projects in neighborhoods of highest need.