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Student scientists take climate action in the Cloquet School Forest for Arbor Day (published April 30, 2021)

Student scientists at Cloquet middle and high schools celebrated Arbor Day (April 30) and combated climate change by planting 500 trees in their recently established school forest and outdoor classroom, with help from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The ninth-grade students have been studying their school forest and researching how climate change can affect its health and longevity. Using climate change projections for individual tree species, along with on-site observations and the plant selector tool from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the students determined which tree and shrub species to plant for future climate conditions.

DNR forester Thor Pakosz helped students select a mix of white pine, white spruce, bur oak, swamp white oak, silver maple, choke cherry, serviceberry, nannyberry and other species grown at the Minnesota State Forest Nursery. After planting, students geotagged each seedling to create detailed ArcGIS maps that record the species and location of each tree and shrub for future study.

“The students put a great deal of time into selecting a mix of species for their site conditions and goals, along with cultural and aesthetic interests,” Pakosz said. “Current students learned how to select and properly plant the trees, and future students will care for and continue to study their growth and resiliency in a changing climate.”

At the Arbor Day Ceremony, Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki also rededicated the city of Cloquet to the Tree City USA program. There are currently 111 Tree City USA designations in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, and the entire month of May is dedicated as Arbor Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate trees and the benefits they offer.

This year the DNR encourages Minnesotans to take climate action, one tree at a time. Homeowners can take climate action by planting trees in their yard or woodland. Trees can shade homes, decreasing air conditioning needs. Trees also absorb and store carbon—in fact, Minnesota’s forests capture and hold an average of 4.6 million metric tons of carbon every year.

For more information about Arbor Month and tips about tree selection, planting, and care, visit the DNR’s Arbor Month webpage.

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