116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Thousands of trees are being planted by Eastern Iowa educators as a part of the Monarch Research Project Planting Forward to help replace trees lost in the derecho.
Planting Forward is a grant program for Linn County residents in an effort to replant native Iowa trees that were lost in hurricane-force winds that struck Iowa on Aug. 10, 2020.
The project has distributed 30,000 trees this year, 8,000 of which have gone to local educators. There are plans to distribute more trees in 2022, to continue to replace the tree canopy and redevelop Eastern Iowa’s ecosystem.
The Monarch Research Project is a nonprofit in Marion working to add native pollinator habitat and reestablish the monarch population in Linn County.
The monarch butterfly population has decreased by more than 90 percent in the last 20 years in the Midwest. As a pollinator, the monarch is essential to billions of dollars in agricultural crops and more than 180,000 plant species.
More than 50 percent of the tree canopy was destroyed by the derecho in Cedar Rapids, and more than 8,000 homes were damaged.
Participants received trees, free wood chips, tree wrap, a watering bucket and first- and second-year planting and care instructions. The ideal planting season for these trees is early to mid-April or early to mid-fall.
Xavier Catholic Schools, College Community, Marion Independent and Mount Vernon are just a few local school districts to receive trees from Planting Forward.
Xavier Catholic Schools staff will help plant nearly 350 new trees in the area, some of which will be planted on school grounds.
“I loved the idea of planting trees to help our community continue to recover from the effects of the derecho last August,” Xavier High School social studies teacher Gina Kutilek said in a news release.
“I just bought a house in May and one of our trees needed to be cut down, so we loved that we could replace that white pine with another white pine,” Kutilek said. “We also selected a black cherry tree so that we could eventually have fruit from it as well as support the ecosystem with a tree that is native to Iowa. We also chose a burr oak tree, which we gave to a family member who also lost trees in the derecho.”
College Community distributed free trees to their staff, who were able to select up to three trees from a list of 25 native species.
Staff ordered 1,400 trees, plus an additional 52 that will be planted on the district’s campus. Trees were distributed earlier this month.
“Prairie staff had a tremendous response to this generous offer,” Superintendent Doug Wheeler said in a news release. “We were grateful to participate in this project and help our staff and our surrounding community replace trees lost in the derecho.”
In Mount Vernon, 115 school staff received 450 free trees as a part of the project, and are planting them on their own property or donating them to families, friends and neighbors.
Marion Independent staff are planting 529 trees provided through Planting Forward.
The city of Marion also partnered with Monarch Research Project to offer city employees, board and commission members and targeted neighborhoods free native trees.
“We personally lost about 50 trees in the storm,” Marion’s purchasing director Rita Packingham said in a news release. “There was never a question about replanting the trees on our property, but to do so without the help of an organization like Monarch Research Project would have been cost-prohibitive.”
“We estimate that Marion lost about 40 percent of its public tree canopy,” city arborist Mike Cimprich said in a news release. “It is so important for both the city and private property owners to replant a diverse mixture of native trees to support our ecosystem. The partnership with Monarch Research Project Planting Forward has been invaluable.”
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