Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tree Planting at Habitat for Humanity Homes Set for September 24, 2010

Mankato, Minn. (Sept 21, 2009) – Approximately 35 trees are being donated and planted to over 13 different families who live in Habitat for Humanity homes.  Envision 2020’s Bend of the River Million Tree Project is lining up volunteers to help plant them Friday morning at various locations throughout Mankato, N. Mankato and Eagle Lake.

The Minnesota Vikings provided a $1,000 matching donation to the downtown Mankato HyVee, who donated the other $1,000 from their proceeds from selling Caribou Coffee during this summer’s Verizon Wireless Viking’s Training Camp in Mankato.  Drummers Garden Center provided more than $700 worth of in-kind support to the project as well.

“These 35 larger trees will add to the over 15,000 that have already been paid for by community donations and planted by volunteers.  We are thrilled to have the Minnesota Vikings, HyVee, and Drummer’s make this significant donation to our community,” said Rich O’Brian, Bend of the River Million Tree Project Leader of Corporate Plantings.

This event is coordinated to coincide with the Minnesota Viking’s 2nd Annual Planet Purple Week. The Vikings created Planet Purple in conjunction with the NFL’s Green Team as an initiative with the mission of developing sustainable business practices and utilizing renewable energy in an effort to lessen the team’s impact on the environment. Planet Purple Week features several environmentally-focused events throughout the week.

Executive Director Julie Schmillen says, “Many of our families put so much time, money and sweat into their new home that there is little left for trees and landscaping in their yards. This donation will be appreciated by 13 families and their friends and neighbors who will enjoy them for decades.”

South Central Habitat for Humanity Background

Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota, which began in 1989, is a non-profit, Christian housing ministry dedicated to building simple, decent and affordable housing with and for families in need. Today the Mankato Chapter has completed 43 homes with five more under construction.

Envision 2020 and Bend of the River Million Tree Project Background

Envision 2020 began more than four years ago, with a planning and visioning stage that included well over 400 citizens taking the time to engage in the important work of envisioning a desired future for the Greater Mankato region. Together, they organized a visionary plan into six Key Performance Areas and identified a total of 34 goals. One of those goals was to protect, preserve and revitalize green spaces.  The Bend of the River MillionTree Project set a goal of planting over a million trees throughout Greater Mankato by the year 2020.

For info contact Barb Embacher, 507.385.6644.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Planting Update

We are a couple of days away from the planting date. Approximately 2500 seedlings arrive on Friday. Community volunteers will plant on Saturday, 9:00 AM at the Good Counsel site. The MSU Environmental Club will plant in North Mankato Saturday as well, meeting at 30 Sandi Ct. at 9:00 AM. MSU athletes will complete the North Mankato planting Sunday at 1:00 PM meeting at the 30 Sandi Ct. site. (The corporate plantings by Lindsay Sash and ADM along County Rd 90 will be next week.)

Rain is forecast on Saturday but we will still plant unless it is a complete washout so come dressed appropriately. Also, check your E-mail before leaving to plant on Saturday and Sunday in case we have to postpone due to weather. If no message is sent, we WILL plant. Any questions, contact me at this address. Thank you in advance for your help with this yearly community project!! — Tom Hagen

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Million Tree Project Update - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It has been a long, hard winter and a cold spring so far, but the seedlings are on order and the planting date is set at April 18, 9-12 AM. This year we will be doing an inter-planting of seedlings on last year's two sites, both at Good Counsel and the North Mankato site off of highway 14. By late fall last year, the dry weather conditions coupled with some rodent damage caused us to consider adding a few trees to the existing sites. In addition, this year ADM has adopted a site on the southern bypass (Hwy 90) and will be doing that planting. Some additional help may be needed there so watch for updates. Because of the difficulty in getting to the North Mankato site, we are hoping to reserve it for the MSU athletes who we hope participate again this year.

As in last year's planting, dress warm, bring a garden clippers if you have one to trim roots if necessary, bring a shovel or spade for the planting, gloves, and water or food if you will need it. Remember there will be no bathroom facilities at the site.

You will also want to monitor your e-mail the day of the planting as it might be postponed because of bad weather. (Sunday afternoon the 19th of April would be the alternate day.) Contact me at this e-mail address to let me know if you will be able to plant on the 18th and how many planters you might be bringing. If Saturday the 18th doesn't work for your group let me know that too as we might be able to arrange a separate day for you if any seedlings remain after Saturday.

Lastly, with the economic difficulties the country is facing, contributions to plant trees have, of course, declined. If and when you are able we would appreciate any tax deductible contribution you might be able to make in order to continue this effort into the future. Send contributions to:
Centenary Million Tree Project
c/o Centenary Methodist Church
501 South Second St.
Mankato, MN. 56001
Tom Hagen

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spring Planting 2009

It is difficult to imagine that spring will finally come when considering the length of this long, cold winter, but the Bend of the River Million Tree Project will soon be preparing for the 2009 planting season. To begin with, an overview of last year’s results is appropriate. As of June last year, all the seedlings looked very good. Most of the seedlings planted had put out leaves and it looked like it would be a great year. The dry weather that followed June, however, took its toll. (Mankato was nearly 18” below normal in precipitation for the year by the time of freeze-up.) The seedlings weathered the dry conditions, but the mice, voles and rabbits that the dry weather produced in large numbers, took their toll. By fall, many of the seedlings had been chewed off or girdled. However, with this winter’s snow pack there is a good likelihood that many will come back from the roots this spring.

That brings us to this year’s efforts. In the shadow of the worldwide economic downturn we have decided to scale back a bit on what we might attempt. We still have some funds left from last year’s drive, and, of course, for those of you still employed and doing well, we would appreciate continued contributions!

Make checks payable to Centenary MTP and send to:
Million Tree Project
c/o Centenary Methodist Church
501 S. Second St.
Mankato, MN 56001

We will use our funds to interplant the two sites from last year, trying some slightly larger 2-year stock to be placed among last year’s seedlings with the hopes for a better growing season. Again, we’ll need volunteers to help in the planting scheduled this year for April 18. We’ll also need some volunteers to help with thistle control on both sites in June-July.

In addition, Home Depot is working on the possibility of doing a corporate planting, perhaps along county Hwy 90. If you are interested in helping with the planting or thistle control this year please respond to this e-mail so that we can keep our list current. I’ll keep you informed as to the progress as the season progresses.

Lastly, a special thank you to Malda Farnham for her untiring service last year in organizing and planting and thistle control. She will be unable to assist this year and her help will be sorely missed. I am in need of an additional person(s) to step up and help keep the project moving ahead. Anyone out there who might have some time to commit this spring please contact me through this e-mail address!

Thank you for your continuing interest in the Million Tree Project.

Tom Hagen

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

April 19th Planting Postscript

Thanks to the volunteers the seedlings were all planted on the Good Counsel and North Mankato Highway 14 sites as well as several other smaller locations.

Rains and cool temperatures have been ideal for the seedlings to get a good start. In July and August we will be calling on volunteers again to help keep the thistle population under control by cutting off flower heads before they go to seed.

We also need to plan for future plantings in the Mankato-North Mankato area. We need volunteers — individuals as well as groups and businesses — who might assist in future planning and planting. If you or your group/company might be interested in adopting a site, sponsoring a planting, or helping to coordinate next year’s activities, please contact Malda Farnham by email or at 507-345-7339.

Thanks once again for your service to both Mother Nature and your community! — TH

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What one community can do to fight global warming

Reforestation program is a necessary part of community-wide planning

by Thomas P. Hagen
"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree."
When Joyce Kilmer wrote these lines at the beginning of the 20th century he didn’t know the half of it. Trees are more than just lovely assets that increase property values. They are producers of oxygen, providers of shade and cooling in the summer, wind breaks in the winter, absorbers of excess ground moisture preventing excess runoff, and most importantly, absorbers of vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, turning the carbon dioxide into biomass. It has been estimated that seven mature trees absorb the carbon produced by an average adult American in a year. A Minnesota study in the March-April 2006 edition of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer reported that the 200,000 public trees in Minneapolis alone provide total benefits to the city each year of $24.9 million in energy savings, carbon emission reductions, air pollution abatement, storm water management, aesthetics and enhanced property values. When costs associated with tree planting and management are subtracted, the benefit citywide was still $79 per tree per year for a whopping total of $15.7 million annually.

The best way to control global warming is to curb emissions, but the second best is to create carbon sinks — places in the environment where free carbon dioxide can be fixed by removal from the air. Trees are expert at this, producing beneficial oxygen as a by-product. (Remember the carbon cycle from high school biology?)

Mankato could fix many thousands of tons of carbon dioxide through re-forestation of our hillsides; parks, river and stream sides; highway medians and roadsides; and backyards and boulevards at a minimal cost. Native species tree seedlings are available cheaply each spring. Using community service groups, boy and girl scout troops, FFA chapters, along with adopt a hillside/roadside type programs, in two weeks every spring replanting could be quickly accomplished. Pest species that feed on seedlings (read deer) would need to be controlled, especially in the early years of young tree development. Once trees take root and begin to grow, the need for mowing ditches and hillsides vanishes saving both fuel and labor costs. As the trees mature many years in the future they will furnish biomass that can be utilized as an alternate renewable fuel source as fossil fuels become scarce.

Practiced region-wide, this effort will produce spectacular results for us all: A tree-lined river, shaded walks, sound buffering and the hiding of now ugly on and off ramps and interchanges, wildlife habitat and the enhancement of the natural look of the spectacular Minnesota River valley.
Steal away at midnight
If you fear someone will see,
And out along the highway
Dig a hole and plant a tree.

Plant them in the medians
Of roadways, or near parking lots.
On boulevards, in alleyways,
In short, on every vacant spot.
Do not give up but persevere!
Your flag, each branch and leaf unfurled.
Your shovel high, a war declare
Of green upon the treeless world!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The April 19 planting was a wild success with 383 volunteers planting over 13,000 seedlings. Here's what the Mankato Free Press had to say:

Hundreds turn out to plant thousands of trees

By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press

NORTH MANKATO— The saplings didn't look like much, just foot-long twigs with a few straggly roots attached.

It took some imagination, a fair amount of faith and a real aptitude for patience to envision the twigs turning into a forest of towering cottonwood, maple and basswood trees.

Sort of like the imagination required to believe that a handful of local environmentalists could raise thousands of dollars to buy trees and get hundreds of area residents to give up a Saturday to plant more than 13,000 of them.

Sort of like the faith required to believe that slaving away on a cool, damp April day in Mankato and North Mankato might make a difference in slowing the rate of global climate change.

Sort of like the patience required to reach a personal goal of 100 seedlings planted in the belief that those 100 might eventually be joined by 999,900 others.

Those attitudes, along with a great doses of optimism, were prevalent Saturday as the Million Tree Project got underway along Highway 14.

“You just want to shake your head and say ‘Fantastic!’,” said Tom Hagen, looking up at the dozens of volunteers scattered across the steep hillside north of the highway. Hagen and Malda Farnham, along with others involved in the Envision 2020 community planning process, were the ones with the abundance of imagination at the beginning of the Million Tree Project. Their vision was to plant a million trees in the two cities, reforesting areas that had been needlessly cleared of trees during construction projects and park development.

They raised money from individuals and corporate donors, bought 15,000 saplings at 50- cents apiece and struggled to persuade the Minnesota Department of Transportation to change the way they managed the Highway 14 roadside. Then they put the word out that they needed volunteers to come out on April 19 and put the trees in the ground.

And 383 did. Along with another 86 school kids and parents that planted some trees on Friday, it all added up to 9,847 hours of volunteer labor and about 13,500 trees in the ground.

That they didn’t get all 15,000 planted wasn’t because they ran out of volunteers willing to work.

They ran out of places to put them. “Not bad for a day’s work,” Hagen said Saturday afternoon, sounding almost giddy. “... I’m feeling great.” Hagen praised all of the volunteers but was particularly effusive in his compliments to the Minnesota State University athletes and their coaches who showed up in waves throughout the day — the soccer squad, the hockey players, the football team.

But there were also older volunteers, including some who just directed traffic to the sites, which also included a large project along the south side of the highway near Good Counsel.

“I’m pushing 80 pretty hard,” said Dave Boyce, who was putting people onto the school bus that ferried groups to the North Mankato planting site.

Boyce said he got involved because he feels an obligation to improve the environment and he has faith that everyone can make a difference.

“It’s the sort of thing we have to do,” Boyce said. “If we don’t make some kind of steps to clean things up, it’ll get worse. That won’t bother me a whole lot, but it sure will my grandkids.”

Bruce Birkemeyer, a retired teacher and selfdescribed tree nut, greeted the volunteers when they got off the bus at the North Mankato planting site.

Birkemeyer demonstrated how the saplings should be put in the ground, then put the people to work.

He described the cool, cloudy day, the damp soil and the rain in the longrange forecast as “perfect conditions” for planting.

“We lucked out,” he said.

Birkemeyer is confident that, with patience, people will see a dramatic change in the look of the highway.

He expects half of the saplings to die with many eaten by deer or rabbits.

But the remaining half, eventually, will make a diverse and natural-appearing forest.

“Twenty years from now, it should look really nice,” he said.

More patience was being demonstrated by Alexis Just, 9, and her mother Mindy. They’d been at it for nearly two hours and had planted 50 trees — half of their goal — and they intended to stick around until they reached triple figures.

A member of Centenary United Methodist Church, which supplied a nice group of volunteers, Alexis Just is worried about global warming. And her mother wanted to support her daughter’s desire to make a difference. “ I just wanted to plant trees so we could have more oxygen,” Alexis said.

“And more places for animals, too.” The little saplings won’t be emitting much oxygen or sequestering much carbon anytime soon. But that could change with time and growth.

“And maybe we’ll be back here next year planting more,” Mindy Just said.

“I’d be OK with that,” Alexis said.

So would Hagen.

“We start small, show that it can work,” he said, “and it may turn into something quite large.”