Over a two-day period on March 21st and 22nd, I had the opportunity to take our corporate partner State Farm on a tour of Charles E. Bessey Nursery in Halsey, Nebraska, and a forest visit to Nebraska National Forest in Chadron, Nebraska. It was quite an experience and something our friends from State Farm won’t forget, I was thrilled to be a part of it.
Day 1: We left Lincoln in the morning and headed to Bessey Nursey in Halsey. Bessey Nursery was established in 1902 as part of the Dismal River Forest Reserve. It is the oldest seedling nursery managed by the U.S. Forest Service and it’s located right here in Nebraska! The nursery is located about one mile west of Halsey, near the geographic center of our state. The sandy soil and bountiful water supply provide the nursery with an ideal medium for growing seedlings. Its primary mission is to provide quality seedlings and services for the national forests of Region 2, including: Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. All of the seedlings for Region 2 planted through Replanting our Forests come from this nursery.
Day 2: We woke up early for meetings at the U.S. Forest Service office in Chadron. After a programmatic debrief on recent plantings, we hiked through the forest to see the devastating effects of recent fires. Over the last two decades, the Thayer Fire, Fort Robinson Fire, and Douthit Fire have claimed the majority of mature pine forest in this area of Nebraska. Combined, the fires devastated more than 86,000 acres—twice the size of Washington, D.C. The future of this ponderosa pine forest is in jeopardy; without human intervention there will be no seed source to reestablish this distinctive ecosystem.
With the help of companies such as State Farm, First National Bank of Omaha, and Cabela’s, we will support the planting of 40,000 seedlings in Nebraska National Forest this year. These seedlings will be planted over a four day period, averaging 10,000 seedlings per day!
Visit arborday.org to learn how you can help in Replanting our Forests.