May 3, 2011
WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- It is tree planting season in Wisconsin, and over the past 100 years the Wisconsin state nursery system has produced more than 1.5 billion tree seedlings planted in the state. The seedlings have been planted by public land managers and private landowners from a southern Kenosha County farm field to the cliffs of the Bayfield peninsula. The seedlings have blocked gusty winds from eroding soil, provided nesting habitat for songbirds and white-tailed deer, shaded picnickers and hunters, been processed into paper and lumber and provided fruits, nuts and sap for maple syrup.
The state nursery system began in 1910 when State Forester Edward Merriam Griffith directed staff in the Wisconsin Conservation Department to begin a small nursery near the shores of Trout Lake on cut-over pine land. That fall, Assistant State Forester Frank B. Moody, forestry student C. L. Harrington and three other young men collected pine cones from recently cut white and red pine after a timber harvest. The seeds were planted during the spring of 1911 and grew into the red and white pines that were distributed to state and county property as seedlings in 1913 for reforestation projects in the cut-over area of the Northwoods.
This year the nurseries are celebrating 100 years of seedling production.
The mission of the nursery program has always been to insure a consistent supply of high quality seedlings of desirable forest species and at an economical price to encourage reforestation in Wisconsin. The nursery system has adapted and thrived throughout the years, experiencing high demand for seedlings during the peak of the federal Conservation Reserve Program and the 1950s Soil Bank era and decreased sales during the Great Depression and the recent economic downturn.
Seedlings are sold at cost of production to Wisconsin forest landowners and fill an important need that cannot be met solely by the private sector.
The nursery staff is planning a number of activities throughout the year for the centennial celebration. Watch for updates on the State Nursery Program page of the DNR website or contact one of the nursery offices for more information: Hayward State Nursery, (715) 634-2717; Griffith State Nursery, (715) 424-3700; Wilson State Nursery, (608) 375-4123.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeremiah Auer, Wisconsin Rapids Griffith Nursery - (715) 424-3700 or Kirsten Held - (608) 264-6036