Planting for the future of Good Earth State Park

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Good Earth State Park is investing in its future with the addition of 1,200 trees.

Good Earth State Park is sprucing up a stretch of dirt along its entrance road with long rows of bare root trees.

“Part of establishing and building that park is continuing on our tree planting plan and planting these 1,200 trees has been part of the plan since the beginning,” Park Manager Jim Henning said.

The project doesn’t end with this year’s crop, either.

“We plan to be planting trees each spring for at least the next two years,” Henning said.

Good Earth is planting eight native species, including plum, hawthorn, and chokecherry, a favorite of longtime volunteer Dean Mertz.

“Growing up in South Dakota, we had chokecherries all the time on the farm and I just love chokecherry trees. You can make a variety of things with that, we made jams and pancake syrup from chokecherries and it’s all good stuff,” Volunteer Dean Mertz said.

Mertz has been planting trees at Good Earth since 2017, and has already buried nearly half of this spring’s allotment of trees.

“This soil is actually pretty easy to dig in, getting into 1,200 trees is a lot of trees to plant through, that’s a lot of shovel fulls (laugh),” Mertz said.

Henning says Good Earth depends on volunteers like Mertz.

“For projects like this it’s a huge help. The last time we did a tree planting we had a couple hundred people come out and we planted a thousand of our trees in just a few hours,” Henning said.

And eventually those trees will grow tall.

“Here in a few years, maybe even ten or twenty years, it’s going to provide a neat area for people to hang out and maybe do some hammocking, or something like that,” Henning said.

Good Earth plans to finish planting this year’s trees on Saturday. If you’d like to volunteer, contact the visitor’s center for details.

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