Welcome back to another edition of Blogging BMP’s. This may seem difficult to believe, but summer has come to an end and another fall is upon us. Last year I talked about the window of opportunity we have this time of year to get things seeded and I am not going to let that reminder slip by this year, so get out there and seed! Now that that is done, lets get on to something that has been on my mind for a while now, TREES! I know what you are thinking, here comes another tree hugging story about how all trees are sacred and we should save every last one or else our children will die of suffocation and acid rain will come down destroying our planet!!!! Yeah, that’s not me or my message so hang in there with me.
As of September 3, the SWCD has received 92 Rule 5 Notices of Intent indicating that 888.39 acres of ground will be disturbed as a result of new construction. That is just shy of 1.4 square miles of land transformation that could be anything from an upgraded press box for a high school sofball team to a massive logistics center with parking for more than 2000 vehicles. This is great for Elkhart County economically as we expand to keep up with the growing demand for recreational vehicles, trailers, boats, and all of the components it takes to support these industries. On the agriculture side of things, we are experiencing moderate growth in both poultry and Dairy farm operations creating the need for larger facilities outside of town as well.
What does this have to do with Trees? Everything! Making room for all of this growth requires the removal of thousands of trees both large and small. I do not have the statistics on how many trees have been removed as a result of the urban growth in the county this year, but I do know we are taking more trees out than we are putting back into the enviroment. It would be foolish to think that at least 5% of the disturbed acreage wasn’t wooded giving us somewhere in the 45-50 acre range of trees removed. At a conservative average of 50 mature trees per acre, we lost somewhere in the 2,500 mature tree range consequently taking away 12.5 million gallons of free stormwater storage. Wow!
This is by no means official data for the county, rather it is something to bring a few important things to light.
- Mature trees can soak up to 50,000 gallons of stormwater annually making them a very effective BMP in the overall stormwater managemnt toolbox.
- We are reducing the number of trees in the county in our efforts to keep up with the demand for comodities we produce in both the manufacturing and agricultural industries.
- People generally care about trees but do not want to fall into the “tree hugger” category.
As we continue to push forward with land development and job creation in the county I only ask that we look for opportunities to maintain our forested areas in the county and replace what we remove when we are constructing new facilities. It just so happens that the SWCD and Michiana Master Gardeners host an annual tree sale (shameless plug) that is an excellent opportunity to get several varieties of trees at a reasonable price and we put the orders together for you making acquisition a breeze. For more information on the tree sale look for our flyers in upcoming Grass Roots newsletters, on our website https://www.elkcoswcd.org/ and on Facebook. Information is regularly updated on all three formats. For additional information on how trees are one of natures BMPs, visit https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-trees-help-reduce-runoff. This is the part of the article that typically contains some type of pun, but you wood not beleave how difficult thinking one up was. Until next time!