UPM Blandin and Lion’s Club plant over 5,000 tree seedlings with area fourth graders

(Grand Rapids, MN, April 27, 2012) – Over 250 fourth grade students planted over 5,000 white spruce tree seedlings at the School Forest, Friday, April 27, celebrating the  Lion’s Club international “I Planted a Tree” campaign and UPM’s global Plant-a-Tree initiative.  Several community partners came together to donate and assist with the event:  the GRHS Green Team, Forest Service, FFA students, Ross Resources as Project Leader, Cap Baker Lions as Project hosts, UPM Blandin donated 6.000 tree seedlings, Itasca County Abstract provided water, Star of the North Lions supplied bus transportation and Ogles Foods contributed popsicles. 

“This was really a great partnership and we were pleased to have this opportunity to work with the students. This planting will be a gift for many years to come and a permanent, natural reminder in the school forest signifying the importance of biodiversity at Blandin and UPM operations around the world,” said Bob Behr, UPM Blandin, Wood Procurement Forester.  Blandin plants about 650,000 trees each year, in addition to the natural regrowth that occurs after harvesting. "Our crews are putting in about 30,000 trees a day now,” said Behr.

Kevin McNichols, local Lion’s Club President welcomed the students and said, “The service challenge to all Lion’s Club members worldwide this year is to plant one million trees. Today you join us in an international service project and we are proud to add 6,000 trees to that goal.”  Following the tree planting all the students enjoyed popsicles donated by Ogles.

UPM is focused on several key areas important for forest biodiversity. These include native tree species, dead wood, valuable habitats, forest structure, water resources and natural forests. At Blandin, this translates into several key activities:  a) decreasing the use of non-native species and planting more native species that are in low abundance, e.g. white pine and white spruce; b) increasing the amount and quality of deadwood left on sites, especially large conifer snags and pieces; c) identifying and mapping small valuable habitats and natural forest areas; d) improving forest stand structure and use of native plant communities knowledge; and e) continuing to protect water resources using Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Approximately 40 teams of students planted 150 trees per team.  “The children did a wonderful job,” said Behr.  “We have planted trees with many school groups through the years, and every time it is rewarding to see the students learn and to leave their lasting legacy to the future of our forests.”  Each student also took a tree seedling home with them.

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