Trees & Wildlife Programs

Trees & Wildlife Programs

Why Plant Trees

The Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District understands the importance of trees and how big of an impact they play in our environment. They can be used for windbreaks, to protect livestock and homesteads, to create wildlife habitat and to improve the overall scenery of our land. Competing with weeds for moisture and nutrients is one of the leading causes of slow growth and death in new tree planting projects.

The Upper Elkhorn NRD has solutions, such as Conservation Mulch, which can increase growth rates and survivability by lowering the competition with weeds and grass. Tree planting by Nebraska residents and the Upper Elkhorn NRD will be very beneficial to present and future generations who will care for our trees, which in turn will continue to protect us and our surroundings.

Tree Program Information

Trees are a very important part of our environment.  They can be used for windbreaks, to protect livestock, to protect homesteads, wildlife habitat, reduce erosion, buffer noise and to improve the overall scenery of our land.  We need to continue planting trees both in new and existing windbreaks and be vigilant in caring for them and they will continue to protect us and our surroundings.

Trees are made available to the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District through the NARD (Nebraska Association of Resources Districts) Tree Program. The trees are grown at Bessey Nursery, located in the National Forest near Halsey, NE, which has a well-established reputation for producing quality seedlings. They provide the NRD with a variety of different species of conservation seedlings which offer an advantage for both residents and wildlife.  The Upper Elkhorn NRD also purchases trees from Lincoln Oaks Nursery and Colorado State Nursery.

District Planting Services

For assistance in planning your windbreak, you can contact your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Office or the Upper Elkhorn NRD Office. A technician is available to suggest the type of trees best suited for your soil type and design a layout plan for your windbreak. The plan will include the tree species, an approximate number of trees needed and staking of the windbreak. All plans will be drawn up to meet the NRCS specifications.  

The Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District will charge an additional fee of $75 if less than 150 trees are planted by machine.  A 50% deposit is required on all machine planted tree orders that are to be planted by the Upper Elkhorn NRD. Tree species will not be guaranteed until the 50% deposit is received. Orders for hand plant trees should be paid in full when the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District places the tree order to preserve the species.

Tree Species Available

ConifersBroadleaves Shrubs
Eastern Red Cedar Native Cottonwood Caragana
Rocky Mountain Juniper Swamp White Oak Sumac
Colorado Blue Spruce Bur Oak Chokecherry
Norway Spruce Black Walnut Diamond Willow
Southwestern White Pine Kentucky Coffee Sandcherry
Jack Pine Manchurian Crabapple Elderberry
Ponderosa Pine Hackberry Dogwood
Austrian Pine Honeylocust Hazelnut
  Black Cherry Cotoneaster
  Manchurian Apricot Lilac
  Silver Maple American Plum
  Armur Maple Golden Currant
    Buffaloberry
    Gambel Oak
    Nanking Cherry

How to Order Trees

Trees can be ordered by contacting your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Office or the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District Office in O'Neill. Machine planted trees or hand plant tree orders will be accepted from November 1 to March 1. To assure the number of trees and species that you want is available, place tree orders as early as possible. Hand plant tree orders must be in multiples of 25 per species. Anyone wishing to have machine planted trees should contact the Upper Elkhorn NRD as soon as possible to schedule their windbreak planning.

Cost Share Assistance Program

To promote tree planting for livestock, homesteads, wildlife habitats, and prevention of soil erosion, the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District has cost share programs available locally and through the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program. Trees, planting and conservation weed mulch are eligible for the cost share program. Cost share program applications will not be approved without a 50% deposit paid when ordering machine planted trees and 100% deposit paid when ordering hand plant trees paid.

There is a minimum requirement of 200 hand plant trees or 150 machine planted trees to be eligible for cost share. Cost share will be paid only on the practice and will not include any portion of the sales tax. Cost share forms must be filled out completely and returned to the Upper Elkhorn NRD office along with the full payment of your tree order  and weed mulch before awarded any cost share funds. Cost share program information can be obtained by contacting your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Office or the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District Office.

Material and Tree Pricing

Cost of Trees & Materials
Hand Plant Trees $1.00/tree
Machine Planted Trees $165.00/100 trees
Weed Mulch (Installed) $0.70/foot
Weed Mulch (By The Roll) $200.00/500 feet
Weed Mulch Squares $2.75/each
Plus Appropriate taxes  
Prices Subject to Change

Replanting Trees

The Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District understands that windbreaks are an essential part of many farms, ranches, acreages and supply needed protection for livestock and erosion control. Windbreak renovation is crucial to maintaining an effective windbreak.  Many windbreaks are growing old and dying out; therefore, not providing the protection they once did. To maintain an effective windbreak, replanting trees is very important.

Replanting trees should be done on a yearly basis to fill in the gaps created by the environment. Although replanting trees is a demanding task, a well-managed windbreak is needed to extend its longevity and effectiveness. Assistance in evaluating your windbreak and learning the best renovation techniques are available from your Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District.

Gopher Control

Gophers spend approximately their whole lives underground and may only appear above ground when they excavate soil to the surface or when they move to new areas. Each animal can move up to a ton of soil in one year and create dozens of mounds. Gophers create more mounds in the spring and fall than in winter or summer, with their burrow system covering over the span of 1 to 2 acres. Gophers damage more than $10 million of main field crops in Nebraska each year and can cause yield reductions ranging from 30% to 40% in areas of alfalfa fields, hay meadows, and rangeland they inhabit.

Gopher machines, also known as burrow builders, are tractor drawn implements that form tunnels within the soil and release a measured amount of toxic grain bait into those tunnels which are near the Gopher's burrows, which in turn they eat. Gopher machines are located throughout the Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District and are available for rent. Poison Milo, which is another form of bait/poison used towards Gophers, is also available for cooperators with a valid pesticide applicators card.