Tree sale highlights importance of protecting land from erosionWith flood-related erosion problems still visible and snow quickly melting around the Northland, North Shore residents are urged to do some preventative landscaping.
By: Tom Olsen, Lake County News Chronicle
With flood-related erosion problems still visible and snow quickly melting around the Northland, North Shore residents are urged to do some preventative landscaping.
Two Harbors will be a pickup location for the South St. Louis County Soil & Water Conservation District’s annual tree and shrub sale. The sale is an annual event, but the agency is hoping this year’s sale will be the biggest yet.
Following last June’s flood, officials say there is a major need for native trees and plants in the Northland.
“People got an eye opener of what happens when water goes down terrain without land to hold it in place (during the flood),” said Lisa McKhann, project assistant for South St. Louis SWCD. “Native, deep-rooted plants are the best,” she added, because they require the least amount of maintenance.
The agency is taking orders for the annual tree and shrub sale through April 12. The sale features 31 native plants, which come in bundles of 10 or 25. The plants will available to pick up in Two Harbors, Proctor and Grand Marais in mid-May. Anybody is welcome to purchase plants, not just residents of Duluth and the North Shore.
The conservation district will be selling bare root seedlings, which McKhann said residents should plan to plant promptly when they receive them in May.
Home and business areas that had grassy areas washed out during the flood are good places to plant trees, McKhann said.
“It helps for next time,” she said. “We have all kinds of projects come through our office, but virtually all of them end with some kind of planting. It’s the best natural buffer to keep soil in place.”
Native plants are not only easier to maintain, but they also have deep roots and grow quickly, making them ideal for flood protection, McKhann said. Deep roots keep the soil from eroding and being swept away during periods of heavy rainfall and snow melt.
“Native species are great for wildlife. They have berries that can feed critters and provide shelter for them. There are additional benefits besides erosion control,” she said. “Aside from maybe deer protection, they require very little ongoing maintenance: no pesticide, no herbicide. They will just flourish because (this environment) is what they like.”
Ever since the flood, much of the work for the South St. Louis SWCD, a governmental and political subdivision of the state of Minnesota, has focused on flood recovery.
“We’re heavily involved in ongoing flood recovery,” said district manager R.C. Boheim. “The tree and shrub sale is a separate thing we do every year, but pretty much everything we do now is somehow tied in with flood recovery.”
The agency has also received two flood relief governmental grants, totaling about $4.5 million. The funds will be used to help compensate residents for erosion-related expenses resulting from the flood. Boheim said.