Atlantic set to host “Operation Releaf” event

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 18th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa DNR and Alliant Energy report a popular program offering landscape quality trees at a deep discount to Alliant Energy customers, will be held at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Atlantic, on May 4th, from 8-a.m. to 10-a.m. “Operation ReLeaf,” a residential tree planting program that promotes long-term energy and natural resource conservation, is funded by Alliant Energy and administered by the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau with assistance from local partners, like Cass County Extension and Outreach.

Through the program, Alliant Energy residential customers may purchase high quality landscaping trees for $25 each.  These trees typically retail for between $65 and $125.  Officials say advanced orders are highly recommended and advance purchase is limited to two trees per household.  In the event there are extra trees available on distribution day, those trees will be released for purchase at that time.  Order forms are available online at www.alliantenergy.com/releaf.

The DNR is encouraging homeowners to prepare for emerald ash borer and other tree pests by planting a diverse mix of tree species. Foresters have been working with local partners to create community tree inventories that will guide future tree planting efforts to keep a healthy mix of tree species. The most recent tree survey for Atlantic finds 40 percent of the trees are maples, followed by ash at 16 percent. The DNR has a target for communities that no more than 10 percent of the trees are from any one species, and no more than 20 percent is from one genus.

Trees available at each distribution event are determined by the local tree species inventory. For Atlantic, species available include American hornbeam, American linden American sentry, bur oak, eastern redbud, hackberry, Kentucky coffeetree, serviceberry autumn brilliance and thorn-less honeylocust skyline. Shade trees are 6 to 8 feet tall in 5 to 7 gallon containers and conifers are 2 to 3 feet tall. Paul Tauke, state forester and chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, says “All trees are purchased through a bidding process to promote local nurseries.”

A workshop lead by district forester Lindsey Barney, will discuss ways to avoid common mistakes that often result in dead trees at 9 a.m. during this tree distribution. The 45 minute workshop will cover root flare and proper planting depth, correcting encircling roots, proper mulching and watering and more.

Operation ReLeaf participants must be Alliant Energy residential customers.