County fills purchasing void by offering shelterbelt service

With the federal government cancelling the Prairie shelterbelt program last year, the County of Stettler has decided to offer

With the federal government cancelling the Prairie shelterbelt program last year, the County of Stettler has decided to offer a shelterbelt planting program for 2014.

Those who want to buy shelterbelt trees will pay, because of the loss of federal funding, the county says. The county plans to co-ordinate orders and delivery.

The previous shelterbelt program had been in place for 100-plus years, and the county said that it’s important to offer that service.

“We feel it’s important to replace that program because trees are a must,” said Quinton Beaumont, the director of agricultural services for the county. “They’re a need for the area, anywhere. Trees only have a certain life cycle. Once the tree is done, it’s done. So we need to replant that tree.”

He added that a shelterbelt program is necessary to add oxygen to the air, retain moisture in crops and reduce the area’s carbon footprint.

Residents can place their order with the county at the county website, or at the county administration building by March 28. The county will place the order with Marketland in Bowden, and transport the trees to Stettler’s county yard before May 15.

Marketland was chosen because it has plenty of trees in stock.

“We wanted to provide our residents with the best options for 2014,” Beaumont said in a news release.

If needed, residents can rent a tree planter from the county for $25 a visit. However, that’s only if the resident is planting 200 or more trees. The county will provide someone to operate the equipment, but the resident must provide a tractor and operator to pull the tree-planting equipment.

If the resident doesn’t pick up the trees within a few days of notification, the trees will be disbursed. Beaumont said that process can take different forms The county will give the trees away to other residents, or the county will plant the trees elsewhere.