Volunteers and community leaders in Blairstown are planting trees in the park and along streets in residential areas to save energy, improve air quality and reduce stormwater runoff. The local effort is a partnership through Alliant Energy and Trees Forever’s Branching Out program.

“Thanks to Branching Out, we are literally planting a better environment while making Blairstown healthier, more vibrant and more energy efficient,” said local project volunteer Mindy Fisher.

President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility Doug Kopp says, “We’re proud that over the last 30 years this program has planted more than a million trees and reduced more than 59 million tons of carbon dioxide. The whole community benefits from these plantings!”

While trees clean the air, they also provide many energy efficiency benefits. Trees shade 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 keep communities cooler in the summer and reduce cooling energy and peak electric demand. Trees also help break up cold winter winds and reduce heating energy in the winter months.

“Tree plantings are great opportunities to teach the community and the next generation about the environment,” said Trees Forever Founding President and CEO Shannon Ramsay. “Branching Out plantings are also hands-on lessons where volunteers learn about how trees provide us with so many benefits—from cleaning our air, water and soil to helping homeowners save energy and money.”

Branching Out supports community plantings, including this one in Blairstown, by providing financial support and technical expertise. This spring Branching Out is giving more than $150,000. in grants to assist Iowa communities and groups with 38 tree-planting projects. Blairstown will receive $1,300.00 for its tree-planting project.

If you would like to volunteer to help plant and care for the trees in Blairstown, call Mindy Fisher at (319) 270-7581 or Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269 x110.

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 June 1 for fall 2018 projects; award recipients will be announced in August. For more information, call Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269 x110, or visit alliantenergy.com/branchingout ortreesforever.org/branchingout.