K-State Research and Extension News
January 15, 2009
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Kansans Continuing Traditional Ties to Trees


MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Since pioneer days, Kansans have planted nuts, seeds and seedlings. On the most basic level, they’ve known trees could make a huge difference in their quality of life.

In modern times those reasons have remained much the same. They have taken on a new importance, however, particularly as they relate to such limited resources as drinkable water and native wildlife, said Joshua Pease, conservation forester with the Kansas Forest Service.

“A break-though study at Kansas State University identified a vital role trees can play alongside creeks, streams, rivers and lakes,” Pease explained. “Those kinds of plantings – wild or cultivated -- help keep our bodies of water from filling up with sediment. That’s a real concern now with the reservoirs that supply the majority of the state’s drinking water.”

Forested shorelines also act as a natural runoff cleaner. They can filter out everything from picnic debris and lawn fertilizer to topsoil and farm chemicals, he said. Plus, they stabilize waterside soil. During floods, good tree plantings can prevent “whole acres of shoreline from washing into another state.”

Of course, most Kansans now plant trees singly, for home shade or curb appeal, Pease said.

But, other Kansans still plant in bulk. Often, they not only help to protect the state’s water but also produce a separate bonus. They include the rural residents, park planners and highway crews whose groups of trees provide protection from Plains weather extremes. They’re the Kansans continuing the traditions of growing trees for fuel, quality lumber, wildlife habitat and/or boundary-line markers.

“They have an impact on all of us, no matter whether we’re interested in clean water, firewood, fresh-cut Christmas trees, nuts, or hunting,” the forester said.

In fact, the traditional reasons now are making today’s out-moving “5-acre farmers” the newest customers for the Kansas Forest Service’s annual sale of low-cost, bulk tree seedlings, Pease said. Information about that conservation-related program is available at any county or district K-State Research and Extension office or on the Web at http://www.kansasforests.org/conservation/.

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K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Kathleen Ward
kward@ksu.edu
K-State Research & Extension News

Joshua Pease is at 785-532-3312.