Nebraska State Park Replaces Trees through Papio NRD Grant Program

Several crabapple trees recently found a new home and the crew that planted them in the heat and among blood-thirsty mosquitoes was anything but crabby.

Michael Westover, Superintendent I of Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun, says the trees were “heaven-sent.”

“We’ve been taking out more trees than we’ve been able to replace and when we saw that we were able to get some, we tried to get in with the grant program,” said Westover.

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park applied for trees through Papio NRD’s Celebrate Trees Grant Program. The grant was approved, and the park received 21 trees, enabling it to replant native trees, complete a fruit orchard, and provide shade for park visitors.

The Celebrate Trees Grant Program provides funding for tree planting on public land for community benefit, such as parks, cemeteries, tribal lands, libraries, and villages within the six counties of the Papio NRD (Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, Burt, Thurston, and Dakota).

“It’s a great program to take advantage of due to the value trees bring to a community and to help offset the increasing cost of trees,” said Terry Schumacher, land and water programs coordinator for the Papio NRD.

“Grants are awarded a maximum of $2,500 or $250 per tree and matching funds are not required,” said Schumacher. “The applications are funded using a ranking system that places higher emphasis on public parks and the replacement of diseased or storm-damaged trees.”

Schumacher says those who apply should plan to do mulching, staking, watering, and other care to ensure a successful planting.

Westover says the park will definitely apply for future grants and encourages others who are eligible to do the same.

“We just want to say thank you,” said Westover. “This was an amazing thing we could do. Every time we have to cut down more trees, it just kind of hurts, so that fact that we were able to bring in more trees and give this kind of beautification to our park, it’s just great.”

Applications can be submitted for the Celebrate Trees Grant Program November through February. If you’d like more information, please contact Kalani Fortina (402) 426-4782 ext. 3 or