The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the start of the Col. William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery annual spring seedling sale, which is open to the public and runs until May 13. Each year, the nursery offers low-cost, New York-grown tree and shrub species for sale to encourage conservation plantings and foster the next generation of forests.
The nursery provided pine seedlings for East Hampton Town to replant after the invasive southern pine beetle destroyed thousands of trees in Northwest Woods in 2017 and 2018. The invasive species has more recently been detected in other areas including state parkland on Napeague.
"The D.E.C. tree nursery in Saratoga grows stock onsite from local seed sources, creating seedlings well-suited to New York's climate," said Commissioner Basil Seggos of the D.E.C. "Widely used for reforestation and conservation efforts across the state, these seedlings fulfill a vital niche in the conservation of our natural resources."
There are multiple environmental, economic, and social reasons to plant trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. Trees also lower heating and cooling costs, provide food and shelter for native wildlife, improve water quality by filtering runoff, prevent erosion, and increase overall public health and well-being.
The nursery offers more than 50 conifer and hardwood species available in bundles of 25 or more, plus several mixed species packets for those looking for a variety. Seedlings are a minimum of five inches tall and one to three years old, depending on species. For information, including how to order, one can visit the Spring Seedling Sale on the D.E.C.'s website. Some species sell out early, so it is recommended to place orders by phone for the most up-to-date availability information.
The D.E.C. is also accepting applications for the nursery's School Seedling Program. From now until March 31, schools and youth education organizations across New York State may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with their students.
According to the D.E.C., the goal of the program is to help instill a sense of environmental stewardship at a young age and set a foundation that will allow students to make informed decisions about the use of natural resources. The program is a tool for educators to use in meeting the Next Generation Science Standards, providing a hands-on opportunity for students to learn about natural systems and the role that trees play while building their awareness of conservation issues. All schools, homeschool groups, and any youth education-based organization may apply, provided trees are planted within the state.
Seedlings are two to three years old, about four to 12 inches tall, and bare-root. There are three packets available: 50 white spruce, 50 white pine, or 30 mixed shrub species good for wildlife habitat. Each school or organization may receive one packet per year. More information and the online application are at the D.E.C.'s website. The Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery can be contacted for assistance or questions at [email protected] or 518-581-1439.