Just about everybody loves trees. Their beauty enhances the environment while providing many other benefits. In addition to their graceful appearance, trees improve energy efficiency by providing windbreaks as well as shade to homes and businesses.
To encourage Iowa communities to plant trees, MidAmerican Energy created its Trees Please! program in 1998. The company has awarded $2,993,500 in grants since the project began. It has just announced the award of $219,000 in current-year grants to 75 Iowa cities and community organizations. Each award is at least $1,000. Recipients must match the funding provided by MidAmerican.
"MidAmerican Energy is pleased to offer the Trees Please! program to promote energy efficiency and environmental beautification through the planting of trees," said Tina Yoder, MidAmerican's energy efficiency manager.
Seven towns in The Messenger circulation area were award recipients: Algona, Badger, Fort Dodge, Hampton, Lake City, Pomeroy and Ruthven. Six of the communities were awarded $1,000 each. Fort Dodge received $2,000. Additionally, the Humboldt County Conservation Board and the Eagle Grove Chamber of Commerce each received $1,000 grants.
Lori Branderhorst, director of the Fort Dodge Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, said her department and the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District are each contributing $1,000 to produce the required $2,000 match to the MidAmerican grant. She said the funds will be used to plant trees in downtown Fort Dodge and restock the city's nursery.
Aaron Parrott, president of the Eagle Grove Chamber of Commerce, said his organization will use the money from MidAmerican to plant trees near the Chamber office. He added that some funds may also be used to assist the city's Parks and Recreation Department address ongoing needs.
The projects the monies made available by MidAmerican for Trees Please! support vary, but Humboldt County Conservation's game plan is another good example.
Chris Clarken, operations supervisor at Humboldt County Conservation, said the latest award will help his organization continue a project that was launched last year with the help of an earlier Trees Please! award.
"We're going to use it to plant trees at Joe Sheldon Park," he said. "Continue to create a windbreak around a newly established campground. ... We used the money last year to start the windbreak project so we are going to continue on with that."
Clarken said the funds from MidAmerican help make scarce resources accomplish more.
"It allows us to spend $1,000 that maybe we otherwise wouldn't have," he said. "It's a matching grant, so we spend $1,000 right along with it."
Clarken said the money will allow somewhere between 25 and 40 additional trees to be planted. He said that work will commence this spring.
The approximately 90-acre Joe Sheldon County Park is about 2 miles west of Humboldt just south of Iowa Highway 3.