Take this job and shovel it: Conservation group asks for volunteers to help plant trees west of town Saturday
Local conservation group the Zumbro Valley Gobblers will begin planting trees in the Collischan Bottoms on Red Wing's west side near the Cannon Valley Trail Saturday, and volunteers are needed.
The Gobblers are looking for volunteers to help plant 650 swamp white oaks as part of a reforestation project to replace trees logged away two years ago, according to Gobblers committee member Warren Robertson.
Volunteers will meet 8 a.m. at a parking area set up at the end of Pepin Avenue off of Highway 61 and Cannon River Avenue. There will be overflow parking at the corner of Cannon River Avenue and North Tyler Road.
Robertson said he will gladly accept volunteers throughout the day to assist with digging holes, transporting trees and filling in dirt and tree mats.
"It's more than likely going to be an all-day affair," Robertson said.
The white oaks to be planted are nursery stock trees that are as tall as 3 to 5 feet. Because they have already grown past seedlings, the trees will have a greater chance of surviving in the grassy swamp of the Collischan Bottoms, Robertson said.
Forester Chad Gelner with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has completed site preparation and marked planting locations with flags.
The DNR said the ground is sufficiently soft for digging, and the trees will only need to be planted 8 to 10 inches into the ground.
Some equipment will be provided, but volunteers are asked to bring gloves, shovels, insect repellent, sunscreen and a lunch. Water will be provided.
Volunteers also are encouraged to bring ATVs to help with transporting trees and supplies to the site. However, rough terrain could make the trip difficult with traditional four-wheelers and trailers, Robertson added.
The swamp white oaks were chosen specifically for this project because of their impact on local wildlife, Robertson said. "Wild turkey and deer depend on their acorns as a food source," he said.
The Zumbro Valley Gobblers is a local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, a nonprofit volunteer and educational group dedicated to preserving wild turkey populations and "our hunting heritage," according its website.
The Collischan Bottoms project was funded largely by a Conservation Partners Legacy grant from Minnesota's Outdoor Heritage Fund set up by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed in 2008. Money comes from the state sales tax and is distributed by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.