Bart Sexton, senior project manager at Sand Creek Consultants, spoke on campus about how trees are the way of the future when it comes to how we treat the chemicals we put into the ground.
In Warrens, Wisconsin on April 23 students will plant hybrid willow and poplar trees to help control waste water in the area. Sexton described the process of tree planting and its benefits. By planting hybrid trees, many nutrients already in the waste water will help them grow instead of causing harm by sitting stagnant.
This tree planting process is called phytoremediation, which Sexton describes as how we use plants to fix things.
Not only will the trees filter the soil of harmful chemicals around the Warrens waste area, salable products will also be created from the wood grown. By controlling the water regulation and the nutrients available, the planted trees will not only benefit the ground but also benefit the people using the wood products after the trees have matured.
Because the trees are relatively cheap and fast growing, benefits will be seen within a few years of planting and will be extremely effective for more than 50 years.
Warrens has enough land, suitable soils and nutrients to grow an abundance of trees to accommodate this process.
This sustainable practice is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, according to Taylor Lewandowski, junior forest management major and urban forestry major.
Lewandowski, who is also the activities coordinator for the Society of American Foresters club on campus, said “I’m proud of being a part of something that’s unique to the town of Warrens and Wisconsin.”
Although this is a new practice in Wisconsin, Sexton says that the United States Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are very supportive of the movement and there have been many grants offered to assist in this event.
In addition to grants, many UWSP students and other volunteers are visiting Warrens on April 23 and 24 to plant trees and initiate the process of phytoremediation. Up to 30 students are attending from UW-Stevens Point, and their volunteer work will be aided with free lodging and meals throughout the weekend.