CEDAR RAPIDS — To celebrate the 2020 centennial of the Iowa state park system, the Department of Natural Resources planted at least 100,000 trees, nearly triple the number planted in a typical year.
The milestone planting commemorate not only the 100th anniversary of the state park system, but also the centennial of the National Association of State Foresters. Members of association participated in the 2020 Centennial Challenge to plant millions of trees across the United States.
The native Iowa trees were supplied by the State Forest Nursery and planted in Iowa’s four state forests, dozens of wildlife management areas and 23 of its state parks, according to Emma Hanigan, urban forestry coordinator.
Over the previous five years, she said, the department planted about 35,000 tree plantings each year.
In addition to DNR funds, the plantings were aided by a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation. Hanigan estimated the grant covered the internal production costs of about 55,200 seedlings.
In addition to help from the foresters’ association, Hanigan said the DNR was helped by volunteers. The department had hoped to involve more volunteers in the plantings, but because of COVID-19 had to keep groups small and distanced. She praised DNR staff and, in some cases, volunteers for “rising to this challenge when navigating the pandemic and recovering from the derecho.”
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