Marion to Host Operation ReLeaf Event
Posted: 09/19/2013

MARION – A popular program offering landscape quality trees at a deep discount to Alliant Energy customers will be held at Squaw Creek Park, 4305 Squaw Lane, in Marion, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., on Oct. 5. 

Operation ReLeaf, a residential tree planting program that promotes long-term energy and natural resource conservation, is funded by Alliant Energy and administered by the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau with assistance from local partners, like the Linn County Conservation Board.

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.

All 10 tree species and 575 trees have been pre-sold ahead of this event.  A spring Operation ReLeaf event will be planned for Linn County. Details and order forms will be available in January at All trees are purchased through a bidding process to promote local nurseries.

“If you didn’t pre-order trees, we would still encourage people to attend the workshop to learn about tree care and how to prepare for emerald ash borer and other tree pests,” said Paul Tauke, state forester and chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau. 

The DNR is encouraging homeowners to prepare for emerald ash borer (EAB) and other tree pests by planting a diverse mix of tree species. 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 most recent tree survey for communities in Linn County finds 30 percent of the trees are maple followed by ash at 14 percent, oak at 11 percent and crabapple at 10 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.

A workshop lead by district forester Mark Vitosh will be held at 8:15 a.m. during this tree distribution, in the Prairie Oak Lodge, in Squaw Creek Park.

Vitosh will discuss ways to treat ash trees for EAB and offer recommendations to battle invasive pests and provide information to avoid common mistakes that often result in dead trees. 

“Research has shown that more than 50 percent of trees planted in urban settings are planted incorrectly, even when planted by professionals,” said Vitosh.

The 45 minute workshop will cover the most common mistakes that can shorten the tree lifespan by decades, including finding the root flare, proper planting depth, correcting and preventing encircling roots, proper mulching and watering, corrective pruning to reduce future storm damage, and planting around buildings for energy efficiency and more.

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.

Operation ReLeaf participants must be Alliant Energy residential customers.