The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

SPNRD receives tree grants


September 22, 2017

Brandon L. Summers

Galen Wittrock, SPNRD assistant manager, shows some of the 40 new trees received this week through ReTree Nebraska and EAT grants to be dispersed throughout Sidney and the surrounding area. The new trees will help increase canopy diversity, and also replace trees that have been lost over the years.

South Platte Natural Resources District has received two grants to bring trees to Sidney and the surrounding area.

Through ReTree Nebraska and EAT (Environmentally Adapted Trees) grants, SPNRD has already received 40 trees, which it will soon begin dispersing, Galen Wittrock, SPNRD assistant manager, said.

ReTree is a University of Nebraska initiative, through the Nebraska Forest Service, to replant a million trees.

"The forest service provides money to buy large, landscape trees, and provide them to communities that work with organizations or tree boards to plant trees within the public areas, or even on private land," Wittrock said.

EAT is a UNL Extension initiative shared between Nebraska and Kansas to plant different varieties of trees throughout the region.

"We know in this area pecans don't really grow here," Wittrock said. "There's some seed sources of these trees real close, and in Kansas they think they might be cold-hearty enough,so they're growing these in the nursery and providing them to us to plant out."

The two programs should yield more than 60 trees for the Sidney area, Wittrock said.

Already, 40 trees have arrived. Working with Sidney Tree Board, the trees will be placed on the city's east walking trails and in Legion Park.

Wittrock has also contacted areas such as Bushnell and Big Springs to offer them trees.

"There's some interest, but nobody's really officially committed to it," he said. "I think there will be. It's a really simple program. It makes challenges for people, trying to find time to plant them."

He added, "Sidney will probably get the fair share of them."

Public spaces may not be the only areas benefitting from the replanting grants.

"If we run out of public areas, what we might end up doing is opening that up to people's private homes," Wittrock said, "but I think we'll have enough public areas for this fall anyway."

The new trees should help Sidney confront its monoculturing problem, Wittrock said.

"We had so many elm trees in the past, and there's certain areas around town that people just haven't planted trees," he said. "Part of it is, just hesitation on variety."

Tom Von Seggern, Sidney parks director, applauded SPNRD's efforts.

"It will give us the opportunity to replace trees we've lost through the years," Von Seggern said, "and start to develop a little diversity in our tree canopy."


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