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Operation Releaf Event Set For Poweshiek County

POWESHIEK COUNTY – A popular program offering landscape-quality trees at a deep discount to Alliant Energy customers will be held in Grinnell, Saturday, Sept. 19.

The Operation ReLeaf event will take place at the parking lot of the Public Services Building, 1411 1st Avenue from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., with a brief tree care and planting workshop at 10 a.m.

Operation ReLeaf is a program to help Alliant Energy customers save energy in their homes using trees to provide shade during the summer and create wind breaks during the winter. For maximum energy efficiency, shade trees should be planted within 30 feet of the east and west sides of a home and evergreens should be planted as a windbreak on the north and west sides. 

Through the program, Alliant Energy residential customers may purchase high quality landscaping trees for $25 each.  These trees typically retail for between $65 and $125.  

Advanced order is highly recommended and advance purchase is limited to two trees per household.  To pre-order, customers should mail their order form by Friday, Sept. 11.  In the event there are extra trees available on distribution day, those trees will be released for purchase at that time.  Order forms are available online at www.alliantenergy.com/releaf

“Planting a diverse mix of trees on your property and in your neighborhood will reduce the likelihood of losing a large number of trees to forest health threats,” said Paul Tauke, state forester and chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forestry Bureau. 

Tauke said they are encouraging homeowners who do not intend to treat for emerald ash borer to plant a replacement tree within 30 feet of the existing ash tree. 

Foresters have been working with local partners to create community tree inventories that will guide future tree planting efforts to keep a healthy mix of tree species. The inventory for Grinnell is just wrapping up.

The most recent statewide tree survey finds 37 percent of the trees are maple, followed by ash at 17 percent and oak at 6 percent.  The DNR has a target for communities that no more than 10 percent of the trees are from any one species, and no more than 20 percent is from one genus. 

Trees available at each distribution event are determined by the local tree species inventory. For Poweshiek County, species available include hackberry, London planetree, gingko, swamp white oak, Chinkapin oak, Shumard oak, flowering crab, star magnolia and American hophornbeam.

Shade trees are 5 to 8 feet tall in 5 to 7 gallon containers and conifers are 3 to 5 feet tall. 

“All trees are purchased through a bidding process to promote local nurseries,” said Tauke.  “This is a great way for homeowners to get a quality tree at an affordable price.”

Just a few of the advantages of yard trees are:
 Decrease in household heating and cooling costs
 Increase in property values
 Decrease in storm water runoff, which may reduce flooding events
 Beauty and personal enjoyment

Studies have found that by having tree lined streets more people spend time outside which can improve activity and lower their body mass index, especially in kids.  Studies also link trees to reduced asthma rates. 

The City of Grinnell is partnering with the Iowa DNR and the US Forest Service to inventory all public trees, and create programs to increase tree canopy and tree health in Grinnell.  Operation ReLeaf is one program that homeowners you can use to plant trees to increase canopy.

Operation ReLeaf, is funded by Alliant Energy and administered by the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau with assistance from local partners, like the City of Grinnell.

Operation ReLeaf participants must be Alliant Energy residential customers.

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