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The value of Trees

Fri, Nov 29th, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

December commentary from the Fillmore Soil and water Conservation District Board of Superviors:

Travis Willford, Harmony

Brian Hazel, Lanesboro

Pamela Mensink, Preston

Tim Gossman, Chatfield

Leonard Leutink Jr., Spring Valley

The winter winds are beginning to blow which gets people thinking about planting windbreaks. So, when is the best time to plant a windbreak? 20 years ago. When is the second best time to plant? Now.

The SWCD’s tree program distributes 12,000 to 15,000 trees each year to more than 200 customers in and outside of Fillmore County. One of the primary uses of many of the trees sold by the SWCD is for farmstead windbreaks. Tree sales offer affordable trees to our customers while generating income for the SWCD. More important are the many functions and benefits that trees provide to the landscape.

Windbreaks are an energy conservation measure for the farmstead plus they offer shelter from wind and sun for livestock and wildlife and capture blowing snow for slow melting and infiltration. In general, young, growing trees take up large quantities of carbon dioxide reducing levels of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. They also intercept pollutants both in the air and water. A healthy tree stand reduces soil erosion by dissipating the energy of raindrops before they hit the ground and by improving water infiltration. Tree roots are great at holding soil in place. All of these factors reduce surface runoff which also reduces soil erosion and flooding. According to American Forests, mature forests can reduce by 40 to 60 percent the amount of water reaching streams.

For many years, windbreaks were eligible for state cost share funding, but this year windbreaks were removed from the list of eligible practices except in counties where wind erosion is a problem. Fillmore County does not meet the state’s requirements to be considered a wind erosion county. However, the SWCD Board has long recognized the importance of trees on the land, especially on the steep and rolling hills found in most of the county. So, this tradition will continue. The SWCD will continue to offer trees for sale and will offer cost share for windbreaks utilizing its local funds. Up to 50 percent of the cost of the trees for a farmstead windbreak designed by the SWCD staff will be paid to the landowner.

The 2014 tree order form can be found on the SWCD website at Tree descriptions can also be found on the website. Contact the SWCD office at 507-765-3878 ext. 3 or email Rick Grooters at for more information about how to get cost share for a farmstead windbreak.

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