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Springing into the season

Alger Conservation District outdoor events return; annual tree care event set for Saturday

Matt Watkeys, the district forester for Alger and Marquette counties, educates residents on tree pruning in 2019. On Saturday, the district is hosting its annual tree-pruning event with some added precautions. The event will help attendees learn how to prune and shape young trees, rejuvenate old or neglected trees, fertilize and spray properly, and perform maintenance pruning, according to the Alger Conservation District website. (Photo courtesy of Alger Conservation District)

MARQUETTE — After a challenging year for the Alger Conservation District, it is once again beginning to offer outdoor events.

On Saturday, the district is hosting its annual tree-pruning event with some added precautions. The event will help attendees learn how to prune and shape young trees, rejuvenate old or neglected trees, fertilize and spray properly, and perform maintenance pruning, according to the Alger Conservation District website.

Last year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19, but this year, the organization is cautiously moving forward with outdoor events, Executive Director Teri Grout said.

“We’ve been doing this since before I started working for the conservation district more than 12 years ago, it’s one of our most popular events. In the (Upper Peninsula), there (are) so many apple trees, whether they’re intentionally planted orchards or volunteer deer apples or whatever,” Grout said. “It’s true that with the proper care, with just a little judicious trimming and pruning, you can even get an older tree to produce better and be a healthier tree.”

This year’s version will look different than previous events, with a limit of 20 people in attendance. The event usually exceeds 30 attendees.

Beyond the attendance limits, protocols such as required masks and social distancing will be in place, Grout said. The conservation district is exercising caution and working to ensure the safety of all who attend, she added.

The pandemic hasn’t only impacted the events held by the Alger Conservation District, but also how its business is conducted.

Early on, the organization was short-handed and operating without much funding due to various impacts of the pandemic, Grout said. This resulted in a switch for personnel to work from home but has fortunately brought back fieldwork, because social distancing can happen much more easily.

“It was a rough year, and certainly I’m not complaining because we’ve all stayed healthy ourselves. The main impact last year was having a number of our state grants temporarily paused because of state spending restrictions,” Grout said. “It required being a little innovative in trying to shuffle funding around because of those pauses and trying to get our folks out to the field safely.”

The tree-pruning event will take place at E9870 Negilski Road in Munising from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Those with questions can contact Grout via email at teri.grout@macd.org, or call 906-387-2222.

Travis Nelson can be reached at tranelso@nmu.edu.

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