Tree seedlings provide protection as well as beauty
With the nation's economy in turmoil, farmers and ranchers have plenty of concerns; protecting their crops and livestock from the ravages of wind and erosion doesn't have to be one of those. With careful planting of windbreaks, this protection can be accomplished and, over the long run, even the costs of energy use can see a decrease.
The Forestry Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department runs the state's Conservation Seedling Program, which provides low cost seedlings to landowners for use in windbreak establishment, erosion control, reforestation and beautification.
Each spring and fall, more than 40 different species of trees and shrubs are sold and distributed through the program. Sold in bulk, the seedlings come in various small and large containers as well as in bare root bundles.
"Our aim is to be a resource to landowners in New Mexico," said Conservation Seedling Program Manager Carol Bada. "We not only provide them with trees, but the expertise and information they need to make their tree planting a success." Bada adds that while her program is only for New Mexicans, residents in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and other areas can take advantage of the seedling programs available in those states and elsewhere.
The Forestry Division will be in Portales for the upcoming New Mexico Agriculture Expo, Feb. 24 and 25, at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. There, they plan to talk with farmers, ranchers and other large landowners about the importance of planting trees on their properties.
With an eye on energy conservation, Bada comments that trees don't just add protection, but cost savings as well.
"We've seen evidence that, over time, planting windbreaks doesn't just protect crops and livestock, but established windbreaks can also reduce the cost of heating and cooling homes and businesses."
Shade created by a well established windbreak keeps buildings cooler during the summer and adds insulation during the cold winter months, according to New Mexico State Forestry.
But Bada also adds that establishing a windbreak isn't as simple as just planting a line of trees and walking away.
"There is a right way and a wrong way," Bada says. "To really save energy, stop erosion and create maximum protection, windbreaks must have several layers. They need to be well irrigated or drought tolerant. Plus, landowners need to know what kinds of species will grow well for their soil types and area geology. This is where State Forestry can help."
Besides talking windbreaks, erosion control, potential energy savings and wildfire prevention and preparedness at the Agriculture Expo in Portales, representatives from New Mexico State Forestry will be selling samples of certain tree species. Trees and shrubs such as Afghanistan Pine, eastern red cedar and sumac will be $2 each. All proceeds are returned to the New Mexico Conservation Seedling Program.
New Mexicans interested in finding out more about the Conservation Seedling Program can log onto www.nmforestry.com or call 505-476-3325.