Branching out

Volunteers and community leaders are gearing up to plant trees in Muscatine and Letts to provide more shade and save energy.

The local effort is part of the statewide Trees Forever and Alliant Energy’s Branching Out program, which annually adds thousands of trees to schools, parks, downtown areas, and neighborhoods through partnerships with local volunteers.

“We’re looking forward to working with Trees Forever and Alliant Energy to plant more trees in Muscatine this year,” said local project volunteer Jon Koch. “With their help, we are literally planting a better environment while making our community healthier, more vibrant, and more energy efficient.”

Trees break up cold winter winds and reduce heating energy needs in the winter months. In summer months, trees shade built surfaces such as homes, businesses, streets, sidewalks, and parking lots, reducing the heat those surfaces absorb. Trees also cool the surrounding air; both of these things lead to a reduction in cooling energy needed and peak energy demand. Trees also provide long-term public health, economic, social, and environmental benefits to the community.

“Trees Forever and Alliant Energy are very excited to support this project, as we know it will provide years and years of beauty and benefits to the community,” said Shannon Ramsay, Trees Forever founding president. “We want to thank our local volunteers for their hard work and their dedication to improving the environment and quality of life in Letts. Together, we are planting a better tomorrow.”

Trees Forever administers the Branching Out program throughout Iowa, providing technical and planning support to participating communities. Alliant Energy funds the program and provides project grants to the communities. This fall, Branching Out will award nearly $104,000 in grants to assist 31 Iowa communities with volunteer-led tree-planting projects. Letts will receive $2,500 for its tree-planting project.

“We’re proud to help our communities take action to have a positive impact on the environment,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility. “Since Branching Out began in 1990, the trees have sequestered more than 116 million pounds of carbon and saved more than 15 million kilowatt-hours of energy.”

If you would like to volunteer to help plant and care for the trees in Letts, call Bill Kemp at (563) 554-0312 or Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269, ext. 110.

Branching Out grant applications are accepted throughout the year, but are considered for funding during two grant-making cycles (spring and fall). The next application deadline is November 1 for spring 2017 projects, with award recipients announced in January. For more information, call Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269, ext. 110, or visit alliantenergy.com/branchingout or treesforever.org.