Conservation Planting 101

Trisha Cracroft, NRCS District Conservationist

Do your animals need wind protection? Do you want to save money by reducing your energy consumption? Do you want to reduce noise, create a visual barrier or establish wildlife habitat? There are many conservation benefits to planting a windbreak, shelterbelt or getting trees and shrubs established.

The Division of Natural Resource and Conservation (DNRC) has teamed up with Montana State University (MSU) Extension Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and local Conservation Districts (CD’s) to offer low cost seedlings (bare root and containerized) to be used in conservation plantings.

A few things to think about before you order trees:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your planting?
  • What is the existing vegetation like where you want to plant?
  • Is there perennial vegetation that will compete with the seedlings?
  • Is there going to be grazing pressure from livestock or wildlife?
  • Do you have browse protection or the area fenced off?
  • Is it feasible to water the trees in the event of a dry spring or long hot summer?
  • It is often difficult to get a good survival rate on tree shrub establishment.

It is in your best interest to take every measure possible to give them the best opportunity for survival. The Big Sky Small Acres magazine (Winter 2013) also has an informative article on things to consider when establishing a shelterbelt.

Not sure what to plant? No problem, the DNRC’s website has lots of information on what trees are suitable for different issues, how to plant and care for your seedlings, and available inventory. Visit their website at http://dnrc.mt.gov/forestry/Nursery/ call 406-542-4244 or email mtnursery@mt.gov for current information. NRCS, MSU Extensions, and the Madison CD are also available to help you develop a plan to meet your needs.

Or better yet, mark your calendar for March 4th to attend the Conservation Planting workshop at 12:00 PM at the First Madison Valley Bank.  A nursery representatives will be on hand to provide information on species selection, site preparation, and plant survival.   A stream expert will also present information on doing plantings along waterways.