LINCOLN, Nebraska – More than 51,000 trees of ETGreen’s 1 million goal take root advancing an ecosystem that provides shelter, safety, food, and more to a diverse range of species.
In July 2021, Executive Travel, a Lincoln-based travel management company, announced its ETGreen initiative with a goal of planting 1 million trees to help reduce the industry’s impact on the planet.
“Planting a tree for each plane ticket sold takes something that’s a negative on the environment and turns it into something that’s a positive,” said Steve Glenn, Executive Travel chairman.
Just a few short months after the announcement, Executive Travel had a partnership in place with Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) to start planting trees in spring 2022.
“When we were building the ETGreen initiative, we wanted to partner with a local organization dedicated to a sustainable future and a beautiful Nebraska,” Glenn said. “This great network of local landowners who plant trees annually through the NRDs means they are cared for after the initial planting.”
Each year, the NRD Conservation Tree Program provides hundreds of thousands of low-cost, bulk trees for planting across the state. Districts collect orders for trees between November and March, then trees are distributed in April in time for spring planting. A majority of NRD conservation trees are sourced from the U.S. Forest Service’s Bessey Nursery in Halsey, Nebraska.
Executive Travel’s cost-share funding allowed Nebraska’s NRDs to plant thousands of additional trees in a variety of ways around the state.
Upper Big Blue NRD received $1,100 in Executive Travel cost share to support plantings in 2022. These funds were distributed to the first five landowners to request machine-planted trees when tree sales opened in fall 2021. The planting projects were in York, Adams, Seward and Hamilton counties and tree varieties included Eastern Redcedar, Ponderosa Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce, Chokecherry, American Plum, Hackberry, Lilac and Norway Spruce.
Lower Elkhorn NRD used their cost-share funding to help landowners replant windbreaks that were lost to tornado damage in the previous year. Most NRDs offered a small discount to the landowner on every conservation tree ordered.
In total, Nebraska’s NRDs planted 616,000 trees with more than 48,000 funded by Executive Travel. Executive Travel distributed more than 3,500 trees during the ETGreen-sponsored George Straight concert in Lincoln April 23 and during Arbor Day weekend at several True Value hardware stores owned by Glenn.
Executive Travel and the NRDs have committed to another year of tree planting and hope to plant an additional 75,000 trees during the 2023 planting season next spring.
“Nebraska has a proud history of planting trees, which reflects Nebraskans’ willingness to invest in the future,” said Dr. Orval Gigstad, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts president. “Our tree planting success is owed to the forward-thinking vision of landowners and now public-private partnerships like Executive Travel.”
Since their inception in 1972, Nebraska’s NRDs have been planting conservation trees and shrubs for windbreaks, erosion control, wildlife habitat and other conservation purposes. This spring, Nebraska’s NRDs planted their 100 millionth tree – that’s approximately 50 trees for each Nebraskan. Natural Resources Districts’ staff and directors will plant the ceremonious 100 millionth tree on the Nebraska Capitol grounds in a public ceremony Sept. 2, 2022.
Each NRD program varies, but possible tree program services include planting, weed barrier installation or weed control, and drip irrigation. For more information on cost share availability, designing a plan or ordering trees, contact your local NRD or visit www.nrdtrees.org.