Trees help soften the harsh climate of the Great Plains, but weather events are leaving parts of Nebraska at-risk of being devoid of trees and their benefits.

Nebraska lost an average of 18% of its tree canopy in the last two decades due to extreme weather, diseases, and invasive insects, the Nebraska Forest Service has said.

In the 2012 wildfires, northwest Nebraska lost large sections of forests in the Pine Ridge District. The Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District is helping replant the ponderosa pine forests in the area. UNWNRD Director Scott Berndt has seen firsthand the benefits of tree planting.

“Nebraska has a proud history of planting trees, but we’ve fallen behind in maintaining our once-coveted designation,” Berndt said. “Trees are an investment in the future, and Nebraskans should revitalize their tree-planting spirit.”

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) help communities and landowners plant more than 700,000 trees per year throughout the state. Under the program, trees cost about $1 each and benefit both people and animals.

Each NRD program varies, but possible services include: planting, weed barrier installation or weed control, and drip irrigation.

The NRDs will soon close tree orders for spring plantings. For more information or to place an order, contact your local NRD or visit www.nrdnet.org and select “Find Your NRD.” 

Learn more about the NRD Conservation Tree Program at www.nrdtrees.org.