Trees, trees, trees! Earlier this spring, volunteers, young and old, could be found with shovels in hand at seven state parks—Blue Mounds, Lake Bemidji, Minneopa, Sibley, Tettegouche, Whitewater, and Zippel Bay—where they were planting and protecting trees (and shrubs) in key areas of the landscape.
These projects were a true collaboration: implemented by each park’s Friends Group, coordinated by Parks & Trails Council and DNR staff, and funded by a generous grant from the Henry Crosby Jr. Foundation, plus additional funds by the Friends Groups.
Each park has a different story to explain the need for the trees. At Whitewater State Park, staff had recently built a new campground in response to closing one that continually flooded—a fate partly due to the effects of climate change. The new campground, while comfortably dry, was also rather treeless. The Friends recruited a local boy scout troop to help plant 85 trees and shrubs, valued at approximately $4,000, to transform the campground.
At Sibley State Park, the park’s four camper cabins had been surrounded by invasive shrubs. Park staff were reluctant to remove them without having the means to provide a replacement. This project provided that means. The friends group teamed up with students from a Willmar-based charter school, to remove the invasives and plant 75 shrubs and 45 trees, which they finished off with protective cages.
When all the projects are completed later this year, the combined result will be approximately 500 trees, saplings and shrubs planted, plus numerous cages and two large deer exclosures. If all goes according to plan, these projects will be felt for years to come and their benefits will only grow larger each year.