Stromsburg Park Adds Trees with NRD Program

Stromsburg Park Adds Trees with NRD Program

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
The wind is whipping across the cornfields on the outskirts of Stromsburg as the tree planting crew from the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District sets about their work on a warm spring morning. Soon the birdsong is interrupted by the heavy thrum of a tractor. Kyle Yrkoski, district forester, loads the pull-behind tree planting cart with 18-inch high fir trees and climbs into the low seat. Jay Geiger steers the tractor slowly along the strip of dark, pre-tilled soil and Kyle begins dropping the young trees one by one through the opening between his feet. A wheel turns marking the distance and making a bell ding every ten feet, alerting Kyle to drop in the next tree. Andy Larkin walks along behind, tamping the soil down around each sapling with his boot, making sure there are no air pockets present that would dry out the roots and decrease survivability.
 
With slow and steady progress, the team plants 500 trees and shrubs in just a few hours.
 
This tree planting project is a collaboration between the NRD and the City of Stromsburg. The city took advantage of the cost-share opportunities offered by the NRD through its Parks Program to add trees to Buckley Park, a high-use facility with campgrounds, aquatic center, playgrounds, ballfields, picnic shelters, and walking trails. The campgrounds currently have space for 9 to 12 RVs and is constantly in use through the summer months. The city is in the process of adding 20 more RV hookups and a dog run, expanding the park’s footprint to the west and increasing its accessibility for larger RVs. 
 
They hope to have the addition complete for use in 2021 according to Lenard Schaefer, public works director for the city of Stromsburg. “Working with Kyle has been great because he walked me through the whole plan for the planting and recommended species,” he said, pointing out the strip of blue spruce that will provide a protective windbreak around the campsite. The planting also includes red osier dogwoods, lilacs, golden currants, and amur maples to provide color and shade through the area.


 
“These trees are essential,” adds city utility clerk Dawn Anderson, who has stopped by to snap a few pictures of the planting in progress. “If you’ve ever been to a campground along the interstate all you see is RV pads, no trees, and there’s nothing welcoming about that. These trees will give shade, a little bit of privacy, and a feeling of a more cozy setting. Trees will add to the whole ambiance of it all.” 
 
The trees will also provide wildlife food and habitat, as well as decrease soil erosion and the effects of flooding around the park, which is flanked by the Big Blue River on one side and Prairie Creek on the other.
 
Existing campgrounds at Buckley Park in Stromsburg

 

Creating a welcoming, tree lined greenspace is more than just aesthetics, say the city employees--it’s a matter of economics for the small community. “People love the Stromsburg campgrounds because it’s so clean and it’s got facilities for the kids. This expansion will hopefully bring more people to town,” says Anderson. Local business owners are eager for the campground enhancements, as more campers means more shoppers for the downtown stores and restaurants a few blocks away, adds Schaefer.
 
“Trees add value to property, so it only makes sense that we would add more trees to our community,” said Anderson.

Each year, the Upper Big Blue NRD plants thousands of trees across the district. For more information about the Parks Program, Conservation Tree Program, and other community tree planting resources, see www.upperbigblue.org/trees.