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Bemidji GreenUp plans pair of springtime planting events

Two events are planned this spring to help "green up" the city.

Bemidji GreenUp is hosting a 1,000-tree giveaway this month and also plans to simultaneously plant 150 trees May 17 in celebration of Minnesota's sesquicentennial.

"Both are exciting projects," said Nancy Erickson, a Bemidji city councilor and member of Bemidji GreenUp.

Free seedlings will be available to city residents the afternoon of April 24 and all day Arbor Day, April 25, at Bemidji City Hall. Those who do not live within the city's limits are encouraged to stop by and see if there are trees available.

In honor of the sesquicentennial, Bemidji GreenUp intends to plant 150 8- to 12-foot trees in the Lincoln South development near the south shore of Lake Bemidji.

"These trees aren't small trees," Erickson said, noting that they already will be fully established.

She said the area that will receive the trees used to a treeless horse pasture before it was developed for housing.

"These folks really do have a need for these trees," she said.

Bemidji GreenUp is seeking volunteers to help plant the trees at 11 a.m. May 17. Because the group wants to plant all 150 trees simultaneously, and since it will take two people per tree to get them into the ground, Bemidji GreenUp is seeking about 300 total volunteers.

They will be asked to sign a form prior to the events and give a firm commitment to being able to help, Erickson said.

Bemidji GreenUp members went around the neighborhood last weekend and talked to area homeowners about the project.

Many residents offered access to their private yards and welcomed the planting of trees on their property, Erickson said.

Homeowners would be responsible for watering and protecting their own trees, she noted. The city will water and care for those planted in the boulevard.

Funding for both projects was provided by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. Bemidji GreenUp received $14,000 from the organization; $13,000 went toward the sesquicentennial event and $1,000 toward the tree giveaway.

Bemidji GreenUp, a volunteer group, formed following the release of the "Bemidji Leads!" destiny drivers, one of which was the goal of planting 10,000 trees a year for 10 years.

However, the goal was tweaked after the bulk of 10,000 planted trees died.

She said the group is still focused on planting trees, but is focusing its efforts on projects that have a better chance of survival.

"People tend to take care of something that is on their own property," she said.

The tree giveaway, she noted, offers residents the opportunity to have their own personal tree. They may only be seedlings now, but 10 years from now, they should be established trees, she explained.

"Everything's got to start some place," she said.

Students from Bemidji Middle School, under the direction of science teacher Mark Studer, have volunteered to bag the seedlings prior to the tree giveaway.

The trees came grouped together 25 to a bag and they needed to be individually bagged to give them away to residents, Erickson explained.