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In collaboration with 11 community partners, Linn County Sustainability and Linn County Conservation have joined forces with Monarch Research’s Planting Forward initiative. Linn County Sustainability is seeking to provide trees to households who might otherwise not be able to access them. The partner organizations include Iowa Big, The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success, Leaders Believers and Achievers, Marion Alliance for Racial Equity (MARE), Young Parents Network, Metro High School, Cedar River Academy, McKinley STEAM Academy, Sunrise Community Action Fund, Matthew 25, and the Wellington Heights Tree Equity Committee.
“The program is designed to provide trees to those who have some barrier to accessing this valuable natural resource,” said Sustainability Program Manager Tamara Marcus. “These barriers may include a financial barrier, a physical barrier of not actually being able to plant the tree, or simply a housing status barrier—it is much more difficult for renters to plant trees than homeowners. The Linn County Tree Equity Program is meant to leverage the networks and resources of our community partners to ensure that as we re-canopy Linn County, we are ensuring that every household has the opportunity to do so.”
Funding for the trees for this program comes from the Planting Forward initiative started by Clark McLeod and Monarch Research. The list of trees to be planted are all native to Iowa, focusing on oak species which support over 534 moth and butterfly species according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“Monarch Research is thrilled to team up with Linn County Sustainability, Linn County Conservation and the community partners who are all making this work possible,” said Mr. McLeod. “Utilizing these unique partnerships is what empowers us to do the work of Planting Forward, using high quality native tree inventory that will benefit private property owners and the environment for generations to come.”
Homeowners and volunteers from the partnering organizations will plant the trees starting the second week of April with many partners planning planting events during Earth Week. Equally important to the planting process is education on native varieties, and tree planting and care. It will be critical that trees are adequately cared for the first year after planting.
Volunteers are needed to help plant the trees. To volunteer, complete the tree planting volunteer form online or call 319-892-5148.
“What is really inspiring about the Planting Forward Tree Equity Program is that it has been designed to not just provide new high quality native trees, but has the foundation of building community through many partners working together to help those who need it most. It really is about growing community as much as growing trees,” said Daniel Gibbins, deputy director of Linn County Conservation.