Nebraska tree program celebrates 100 million trees and shrubs planted

By: - September 6, 2022 2:38 pm
tree planting

A ceremonial 100 millionth tree was planted Friday on the grounds of the Nebraska State Capitol to commemorate the work of the state’s Natural Resources Districts to get trees and shrubs planted for wildlife habitat and erosion control. (Courtesy Nebraska Association of Resources Districts)

LINCOLN — A 50-year-old program that annually distributes hundreds of thousands of tree and shrub seedlings celebrated a milestone recently, planting a tree at the Nebraska State Capitol to represent that 100 million trees and shrubs have been put in the ground.

The Conservation Tree Program, run by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts since 1972, distributes the trees and shrubs for wind breaks, erosion control, wildlife habitat and other conservation purposes.

Officials estimated that the 100 millionth tree was planted this spring and that, all told, 50 trees and shrubs per Nebraska resident have been planted through the program across the state.

“Nebraska has a proud history of planting trees and putting the 100 millionth tree in the ground reflects Nebraskans’ willingness to invest in the future,” said Dr. Orval Gigstad, president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.

Nebraska was once known as the “Tree Planters State” due to its commitment to establish trees on the mostly tree-less prairie.

A majority of the NRD conservation trees come from a nursery at the U.S. Forest Service’s Bessey Nursery in Halsey.

The trees and shrubs are sold in bundles — the NRDs take orders between November and March, then distribute the trees and shrubs in April in time for planting.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.