Tree project essential for N.D. future

It’s no secret that North Dakota’s tree rows and shelterbelts are getting old and need replacement. Going back to the days of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, about 55,000 miles of shelterbelts and tree rows were planted in the state.

The trees have done their job. The windbreaks helped fight erosion, increased row crop productivity and provided shelter for livestock and improved weight gains by cattle. The shelterbelts also provide habitat for wildlife. The trees, however, are aging and it’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of those plantings are in poor to fair condition. About two years ago a program was launched to replace the old trees.

On Monday, reporter Amy Dalrymple told about a partnership of the state Outdoor Heritage Fund, the oil and gas industry and private landowners to plant an estimated 55,000 trees in the next few years. The Planting for the Future project got about $108,000 in grant funding from the state Industrial Commission last week. The North Dakota Petroleum Council is one driving force behind the project.