Detroit Lakes' Sucker Creek Preserve now has just under 100 newly planted trees, thanks to a Conservation Partners Legacy grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources — and several hours of volunteer labor from members of Boy Scouts Troop 674.

Guided by Troop 674 Scoutmaster Lance Akers, Sucker Creek Preserve founder Sally Hausken and Detroit Lakes Parks & Arena Supervisor Tom Gulon, the local scouts painstakingly planted and watered each of the new trees, which had been carefully chosen for their suitability by Hausken.

The tree planting was part of the reforestation phase of a three-year Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant project to eradicate buckthorn (a type of invasive species) at the local nature preserve. The grant was funded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"This is the final year of a three-year grant project," Gulon explained. "The first two years were for the cutting and treatment of buckthorn; the final year is for reforestation."

He added that there would be one more planting done in the fall.

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Hausken noted that she and Gulon, along with volunteers Bruce Imholte, Bill Henke and Nancy Henke, had spent the Friday evening before the Boy Scouts came, carefully laying out the small saplings according to where they were to be planted the next morning.

There were four designated planting zones, she added, with the tree varieties chosen for each zone depending on soil conditions, sun position, and the individual growing needs of the plants. All of the trees chosen are native to the region.

"I put about 20 hours into researching this," Hausken said. "I tried really hard to research what the needs of each type of plant were."

The volunteers then laid out the young trees according to the type of soil and lighting conditions where they would thrive best. The following morning, Akers and Hausken showed the Scouts how and where to plant them.

As Akers demonstrated how to dig the hole, plant the sapling and water it, he noted cheerfully, "It's going to be a muddy job, but this is what we do, boys!"

Scoutmaster Lance Akers (second from left) showed the members of Boy Scouts Troop 674 how to plant and water a tree sapling at the start of their community service project at Sucker Creek Preserve on Saturday, May 1. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Scoutmaster Lance Akers (second from left) showed the members of Boy Scouts Troop 674 how to plant and water a tree sapling at the start of their community service project at Sucker Creek Preserve on Saturday, May 1. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Some of the varieties chosen for the planting included hazelnut — "which has a beautiful fall color that is unique," Hausken said — silky dogwood, chokeberry, white cedar, American plum, Ohio buckeye, quaking aspen, nannyberry and pincherry.

"Dig a 50-cent hole for a five-cent plant," Hausken told the Scouts on Saturday; what this meant, according to a handout given to the Scouts prior to the planting, was that loose dirt should be left on the sides and bottom, and wet, dead leaves placed at the bottom of the hole to provide nutrition for the roots.