Local area and state NRCS tree planting efforts

Tree rows ... October 2007, a young man mows the aisles in a tree grove to keep the grass and weeds down so the trees can continue growing well. They were planted in the spring of 1997.

Over 1.9 million trees were planted for conservation purposes across South Dakota during Fiscal Year 2007, according to Resource Conservationist Greg Yapp of the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Huron.

Teresa O'Connell, Haakon County Conservation District manager, said the NRCS's East Central Area consists of 12 counties, including Haakon. In 2007, Haakon County had the most trees planted of its area. There were 34,318 trees planted, or 10.2 miles worth of windbreak trees. This total represents 13 ranches in Haakon County and a total of 146.4 acres of trees. The next largest planting of trees in the area was 101.0 acres in Lyman County, Jackson County planted 36.5 acres and East Pennington planted 12.8 acres.

The South Dakota NRCS Tree Planting Report is a historical record that annually documents the work being done by conservation groups. "Everyone involved in this year's tree planting effort, from the growing of nursery stock, to the planning, to the actual planting, can be very proud of their accomplishments," said Yapp.

As a result of assistance through conservation programs, NRCS, conservation districts and other partners helped landowners put trees on over 4,600 acres of South Dakota's agricultural landscape. This cooperative tree planting effort made progress toward solving erosion problems as well as improving the quality of the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources.

Typically, conservation districts across the state perform the actual planting and NRCS has provided the technical assistance for designing the planting. However, in recent years, cooperating partners such as Pheasants Forever, watershed projects and the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, are helping address the work load.

In South Dakota, more than 535 miles of field windbreaks were planted this year. "That's enough trees to follow Interstate 90, starting at Sioux Falls, going to Rapid City and almost back to Chamberlain," says Yapp. "This is an impressive agroforestry effort for South Dakota. There are a lot of different reasons for planting a tree, including improving water quality, addressing erosion problems, providing wildlife habitat or simply, energy savings."

"South Dakota has a strong tradition of incorporating agroforestry into our agriculture enterprise," Yapp said. "Planting the right tree, in the right place, to solve resource concerns is what we do best."

Anyone interested in field windbreaks, farmstead and feedlot windbreaks, riparian forest buffers, living snow fences and wildlife plantings, or other options for resource conservation on their land can check with their local USDA Service Center.