We arrived at the Aurora office early Friday morning to meet up with Matt of the Forest Service weed crew for a day of planting Cedar and Tamarac seedlings. We caravanned to our tree-planting site, the 30-mile river, in our trusty Trailblazer and a Forest Service truck with a huge tank of herbicide in the trunk. As we drove towards our site Matt pointed out sites that he and his crew had recently gathered seeds. He described some of the jobs that his crew carries out; in a given day they may survey for rare plants or drive far and wide within the Superior forest to remove invasive plants. Fun fact about the herbicide used by Matt and his crew: it’s relatively nontoxic—one would get sick faster by consuming a solution of table salt!
After about an hour drive we arrived at the 30-mile river and unloaded about 800 cedar and 300 tamarac seedlings. Equipped with tree-planting bars, bug nets, and a couple hundred seedlings per person, we partnered up and headed along the bank of the river. The day was a beautiful and sunny, and we tromped through the riparian bushes to find what we hoped would be appropriate spots for the seedlings to take root. All in all, we planted 1100 seedlings, of which about 10-20% will probably survive. The long-term goal for this project is for the trees to grow tall and fall into the stream when they die; this will provide a shady habitat for trout. We all enjoyed planting these tiny trees on the riverside for an afternoon—it was a nice change from pulling up invasive plants.