Members of the Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees are rallying to save the State Forest Nursery. The members have called a meeting for July 29, to answer questions and ensure that the nursery remains open and viable.
“With emerald ash borer and other woodland pests and diseases spreading across Iowa, the State Forest Nursery is needed now more than ever to grow replacement trees for conservation plantings,” said Coalition Co-Chair, Dave Bartemes, past president of the Iowa Woodland Owners Association. Bartemes added that the native plants from the nursery tend to grow better in Iowa, because they are better suited to local conditions.
The State Forest Nursery, part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, provides locally sourced conservation tree and shrub seedling stock to Iowa landowners for reforestation, wildlife habitat, erosion control and water quality. The nursery has been in limbo as the DNR considers closing it, due to falling revenues. The 98-acre nursery in Ames was established in the 1930s, while a 20-acre Montrose Unit was established in 1982.
“Our woodlands are under a serious and growing threat in communities and rural Iowa,” said Shannon Ramsay, Founding President and CEO of Trees Forever and Coalition Co-Chair. “Rather than taking away the important asset that we have in the nursery, Iowa’s forests and trees need more state investment, which will increase jobs and boost economic growth.” Ramsay noted that in one year alone, Iowa lost 42,000 acres of woodlands, the equivalent of nearly 32,000 football fields of valuable trees that are gone forever.