Volunteers and Indiana Department of Natural Resources employees planted more than 10,000 trees Tuesday on a piece of farmland in the Morgan Monroe State Forest that had been completely bare of trees for years.
Through the Indiana Tree Project, individuals and businesses donated the trees that were planted on the otherwise treeless landscape.
“Today actually I saw my first black and red, I forget the name, but it was a black and red bird.” says Leah Danek, a girl who is homeschooled and came to the planting to learn about trees and the environment. “I’ve never seen one before, and I got to plant trees for the first time too.”
Bourke Patton, the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation’s executive director and oversees the project, says the day’s events will benefit people like Leah for many years to come.
“Our state was once almost completely covered in trees and now, a lot of that’s been lost,” Bourke says. “So if we can restore our forests we’re going to have health benefits through clean water, clean air, soil retention – we’ll have places for people to recreate and go outdoors. So we launched the tree project and asked people to donate $10 to plant a tree, that will forever be a part of our state forest.”
But the trees are not being planted just for environmental reasons. DNR Assistant State Forester Phil Wagner says the state often cuts down older trees for timber and to thin and maintain the forest.
“So in this particular situation we chose black walnut, white oak and a red oak combination because they produce high-quality timber for us and they also have a lot of value as wildlife because of the acorn production and the nut production that’s associated with them,” Bourke says.
The newly planted land should become a fully mature forest in 80 to 100 years, at which point the state could choose to use it for timber production.