SPNRD Community Forestry Program encourages replacing sick and dead trees

 

Tonia Copeland

One of many windrows at the Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area 10 miles west of Kimball. The South Platte Natural Resources District currently oversees maintenance at the Reservoir while a committee is used for decision-making. The SPNRD encourages citizens and organizations to replace sick and dead trees through the Community Forestry Program. For more information about this program, contact Galen Wittrock, SPNRD assistant manager, at 308-254-2377.

As the City of Kimball begins to send out letters regarding dead and overgrown trees, the South Platte Natural Resources District offers some assistance through the Community Forestry Program. Kimball residents are encouraged to apply for cost-sharing funds through the City of Kimball.

Because Kimball has an established Tree Board, according to Galen Wittrock, assistant manager at SPNRD, the Community Forestry Program benefits the community in two ways.

The first is financial assistance by providing cost-sharing for the purchase of new trees for public lands, such as parks, schools and cemeteries.

This program allows for one tree to be purchased at half price, due to cost-sharing, for each tree that is removed or cut down. For Kimball this means that for each tree cut down inside city limits, SPNRD will help purchase a new one to be used in the city's public spaces.

Funding for the cost-share program is limited to two trees planted and/removed per private lot and that limit is raised to five trees for every public or community lot.

Trees provided for the program must come from a licensed nursery and participants are encouraged to use the expertise offered from that nursery, a Nebraska Forest Service forester, a landscape architect or a professional arborist.

"What most applicants do, a lot of times it is a town, village or city, they have the ability to order trees at wholesale prices. A lot of those come from out-of-state," Wittrock said. "That is why on the application we ask what kind of trees you are looking at planting because we want to make sure they will adapt to this area."

For other applicants, Wittrock said, often they just shop locally, but if they are not able to find the right trees for their property they can call the SPNRD.

Doing so ensures that planting is planned properly for the tree and that trees are cared for in the most effective way for the panhandle.

The second benefit offered through the Community Forestry Program provides residents within city limits with landscape trees at no cost. These trees, which will be used for education as well as, enhancing urban forestry, will be provided at no cost but must be planted within city limits.


The re-tree program allows individuals to garner the experience of the SPNRD in that district staff will plant a tree, demonstrating proper planting and care techniques. Trees will then be provided for citizens to plant and maintain in the same manner.

However, this project will occur only in select communities at a given date and time and NRD staff will monitor the growth and health of the trees annually.

"The biggest thing overall is proper planting," Wittrock said. "Sick trees are usually just due to improper planting. The biggest thing a homeowner can do is not plant it too deep. Planting depth is critical."

Citizens are encouraged to contact their village or city office or the South Platte Natural Resources District in Sidney for more information about these programs.

SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE SOUTH PLATTE NATURAL RESOURCES DISTRICT COMMUNITY FORESTRY PROGRAM

TREE PLANTING

Landscape planting is most successful when good stock and proper planting methods are used. The following are specifications and guidelines recommended by the UNL-NFS for purchasing and planting the most common types of landscape plant material (trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants). The specifications have been endorsed by both the Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association and the Nebraska Arborists Association.

Types of Planting Stock

Trees and shrubs are typically purchased in one of four basic forms: container-grown, bare-root, balled and burlapped (B&B), or spade-dug. Nearly all herbaceous plants are now purchased as container-grown although some can be shipped bare-root. Generally, spade-dug and B&B trees allow for the planting of larger specimens since more root mass can be moved with the tree.

Container-grown plants, however, are quickly becoming the nursery norm since they have more shipping flexibility and usually have a longer planting season. Bare-root plants often have the lowest cost, but are limited to a short planting period in early spring.

LANDSCAPE PLANTING PRACTICES

Preparing the Planting Site

Before digging a planting hole, make sure the soil is suitable for growing the selected plant. For questionable soils, a soil test will determine whether any macro or micro-nutrients are missing. If the soil is heavy clay or very compacted, the soil should also be tested to ensure that adequate drainage will be available. If drainage will be poor and the area seasonably wet, a wet-tolerant species such as swamp white oak should be considered.

For adequate soils, amendments to the planting area are not necessary. If soils are heavy clay or very compacted, consider replacing the top soil with a good loam soil and/or incorporating composted organic materials to a depth of several inches. Another possible solution would be to develop a raised planting bed by adding both top soil and organic material to a depth of 6" to 18" over the entire planting area.

IMPORTANT: The planting hole should be significantly wider than the root system or root ball and not any deeper than the former depth of the root system - perhaps even slightly shallower (in heavy clay soils, up to one-third of the root ball can be above ground level). Since most roots stay shallow and grow horizontally, the wide but shallow hole will provide a favorable environment for new and future root growth. The bottom of the planting hole should be firm and the sides should slope gradually to create a saucer shape. If the sides of the hole are glazed, score them with a knife or shovel to encourage root penetration into the surrounding soil.

IMPORTANT: Be sure all underground utilities have been located before you start digging holes.

 

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