Meeting state’s greatest need through trees

Here we immigrants have been in North Dakota officially as a recognized territory since 1861 and our wind swept prairies are still suffering from an embarrassing nakedness.

It seems appropriate to bring the subject up since May is Arbor month and there is no one more romantic about trees than Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see

A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that in summer may wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Centennial Year Enthusiasm

It’s time that North Dakota got back in an accelerated tree planting mode. Back during the celebration of the state’s centennial celebration in 1987, we all got excited when a goal was set of planting 100,000,000 trees over the next 10 years.

I am not sure where the idea came from but I always thought it was Jim Fuglie who was the state Director of the Tourism Division at the time.

A number of cities and counties bought into the idea and thousands of new trees were planted. At my hometown, the Burlington Northern gave us a 10-acre strip of undeveloped frontage and we planted 24 trees for every resident – around 400 trees. Two groves are still prospering on the site.

Did reach 600,000 trees

We didn’t reach the state goal but we did get to 600,000 – mostly because the soil conservation districts were planting their regular quota of trees.

Soil conservation districts exist in every county and receive bare root trees available for individuals and groups at bargain prices.

For folks who may not know which trees to plant, the local soil conservation personnel can give the best advice because there are soil variations in the state to heed. Trees can be choosy about where to live.

Trees have so many benefits that we can’t enumerate all of them in a short essay. If we had planted five rows of cottonwoods along the Canadian border instead of building a wall in Texas, the winter winds would have been slower and everyone in the state would have saved heating money.

Trust the professionals

Whether you are a believer in earth warming or not most rational people go with the scientists who say it is happening, not by the day but by the decade. Since most of us can only see until next Thursday, we have to trust the professionals.

To summarize the situation, people breathe out carbon dioxide, trees breathe in carbon dioxide. We need more trees to keep ahead of the people.

Right now, dozens of companies have committed to planting and protecting trees and hope to increase the world’s tree supply by one-third in a Trillion Trees Campaign by 2030. Adding 1.2 trillion trees would absorb the equivalent of 10 years of carbon emissions, according to TIME.

May is tree planting time

There was a Billion Trees Campaign in the early 2000s but North Dakota missed it. If we are alert, we can hook our planter to the Trillion Trees Campaign and get back into the growing game.

So contact your local soil conservation district. They’re eager to see you. The robins are waiting.

Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.


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