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Winter blues got you down? Think green. Now is a great time to get your tree order in for spring. Whether implementing a Conservation practice, or you just like trees, Mitchell County Conservation Board is a great source for hearty, local tree species. We have access to a wide variety of fruit and nut trees, as well as conifers, both bare root and container grown.

Call our office at 641-732-5204 to find out availability and pricing. Trees ordered through MCCB will come in one large shipment in the spring, usually around Easter. These orders are for bulk trees, often requiring a purchase of 10-25 in a bundle. Chat with your friends and family to see if anyone is interested in splitting an order or give them as a gift. This is a great way to get a wide variety of trees, for a great price. We also have tree stakes and protection sleeves available to keep those pesky deer away and give your new trees the best start possible. If you are doing a large planting, MCCB also has a tree planter available for rent. Just let us know you’d like to use it, and we’ll get you on the list. Lastly, don’t forget to mulch. The Mitchell County Recycling Center, located next to the MCCB offices, has FREE MULCH for the hauling. For information on tree planting guidelines, visit https://www.arborday.org/trees/index-planting.cfm

Already have some trees? Why not try tapping them for your own Maple Syrup? It is one of the first things to harvest from the woods in spring, gets you outside soaking up some much-needed Vitamin D, and rewards you with a sweet treat for all your efforts. All you need are some days above freezing, nights below freezing, Maple trees, a drill, some tubing, and a bucket. You can tap any member of the Maple Family for syrup, including Box Elder trees. Maples have opposite branching and paired buds along the branch. A great guide to help with your winter Tree ID can be found at http://www.ccfpd.org/Portals/0/Assets/PDF/WinterTreeIDpocketguide.pdf

We use new, clean 5-gallon buckets with lids and 5/16-inch ID x 7/16-inch OD clear vinyl tubing from the hardware store for our tapping supplies. You can also buy kits to get you started. Once temps have reached above freezing during the day, and nights below freezing, start tapping. Just drill a 7/16-inch hole at a slight upward angle in your tree (one tap per 10-inch of diameter), insert tubing, place bucket at base of tree, drill hole in lid, and cut tubing to length. Check on your sap, collect, and cook every day.

To turn sap to syrup, take your daily sap collection and boil down outside over a fire or turkey fryer until reduced. For true syrup, transfer reduced sap to a stovetop burner and cook until the temperature reaches 219-220 degrees. Enjoy over pancakes or ice cream. For more information on winter Tree ID and Maple Syruping, contact Naturalist Chelsea Ewen Rowcliffe at the Milton R. Owen Nature Center.

Finally, for some more winter time fun, come visit Mitchell County Conservation Board’s trails for cross-country skiing, sledding, birdwatching, wildlife tracking, nature photography, and playing in the snow. Let us know which of our county areas is your favorite. We love to share pictures of people enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful nature photos you capture, so be sure to like us and share your photos on our Facebook page.

If you are looking for even more ways to cure cabin fever, consider volunteering at the Milton R. Owen Nature Center. We welcome any volunteers wishing to help open the nature center and assist visitors with skis and on the weekends. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Chelsea at 641-732-5204.

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