Reforestation project may expand

August 20, 1997


Staff Writer

DOWNSVILLE - The Washington County Commissioners approved expanding a new county reforestation program after touring a pilot site Tuesday.

Elmer Weibley, head of the county Soil Conservation District, said about 75 percent of the seedlings on 6.79 acres died this year, in part because of the drought. The cost of the program was $25,968, and was paid for by reforestation fees assessed against developers who chop down trees and don't replace them.

The county has about $324,000 in the reforestation fund. That money can't be used for any purpose other than planting new forests or purchasing easements to protect existing ones, said county planner Steve Goodrich.

Weibley recommended paying $500 an acre to property owners willing to have a perpetual easement to allow the county to plant trees and keep them on the property. An additional $300 per acre would go to property within 300 feet of streams, because streamside trees are important to maintaining water quality, he said.


Weibley said trees are good neighbors with benefits that include stormwater management because the trees will soak up some of the water.

Weibley said he'd like to see 10 different sites participate in the program next year.

The great advantage of this program is that it isn't forcing anybody to do anything or regulating anybody, he said.

"We're putting trees where they're wanted and where they'll be cared for."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said he'd like to see planted larger seedlings than the twigs found at the pilot site in Downsville.

Weibley said the next planting contract will specify ages of trees "so we don't have little sticks."

Although most of the seedlings died this year, the county is protected because the contractor must have 75 percent of the seedlings survive after two years or replant, Weibley said.

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