Mower SWCD taking orders for annual tree program

Blizzard conditions in late December gave a strong reminder to those living in rural Mower County of the significant value provided by vegetative windbreaks.

Mower Soil & Water Conservation District now is taking orders for its annual tree and shrub program focused on conservation and helping landowners establish windbreaks, also known as shelterbelts. Orders can be done online at www.mowerswcd.org, via postal mail and at the Mower SWCD office in Austin at 1408 21st Ave. N.W.

Mower SWCD has a limited supply of each type of tree and shrub, and staff take orders on a first-come, first-serve basis, said James Fett, Mower SWCD’s tree program coordinator.

New to the Mower SWCD tree list is the Hybrid Willow, a deciduous bareroot sold in bundles of 25 trees. Hybrid Willow is a fast-growing tree that, under ideal conditions, can grow more than 6 feet per year. It needs full to partial sun and as narrow as a 5-foot spacing for a dense, fast-growing windbreak.

Bundles of bareroot trees and shrubs (almost all sold in bundles of 25) and four types of container-grown evergreen trees sold individually are offered through the SWCD tree program.

Only limited quantities will be available after Feb. 28; order cancellations will not be accepted after that date. All orders must be placed and fully paid by April 1 with Mower SWCD. There will not be a waiting list taken for the 2024 tree program.

Mower SWCD greatly appreciates the hundreds of people who buy and plant trees from this program, Fett said, as trees provide many environmental benefits in Mower County and surrounding counties. This effort is even more vital now with the Emerald Ash Borer being confirmed across Mower County.

Area forester, Jared Holm, also now is available to help with tree-related questions as he works most days of the week at the Mower County Ag Service Center that houses Mower SWCD as well as USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Holm is a forester for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) in partnership with USDA-NRCS.

According to the USDA’s National Agroforestry Center, windbreaks are linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to provide economic, environmental and community benefits. Their main purpose is to slow the wind that creates a more beneficial condition for soils, crops, livestock, wildlife and people.  Windbreaks also provide shade for livestock, visual screening, aesthetics, recreational opportunities and wood and nontimber forest products. They also enhance biodiversity, wildlife habitat, carbon storage.

Mower SWCD staff will distribute trees in mid-April (exact date to be determined) on the west side of the Runnings store in Austin. Letters will be sent in early April with pickup dates and times to all who place an order.

Landowners who have questions or need help with planning a windbreak are encouraged to contact Mower SWCD technician Larry Callahan at [email protected] or 507-460-4585.

Bareroot trees are sold in bundles of 25 in two types: evergreen and deciduous. Bareroot shrubs are sold in bundles of 25, except for one type – Common Purple Lilac – sold in bundles of 10.

Evergreens also are offered in container-grown options, including 1- and 2-gallon pots for Black Hills Spruce. Techny Arborvitae and Meyer Spruce are in 2-gallon containers, with 1-gallon options for Norway Spruce and White Pine.

Mower SWCD also sells tree mats with staples and tree shelters with stakes.

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