Iowa Departments of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Natural Resources Offer Funding, Tips to Repair Windbreaks Damaged during the Derecho

DES MOINES, Iowa (Oct. 22, 2020) – The hurricane-like derecho that rolled through the state of Iowa on Aug. 10 damaged and destroyed farmstead and field windbreaks in its path. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are offering funding and technical assistance to help farmers and landowners repair and rebuild windbreaks that were damaged during the storm.

REAP Funding Available

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is dedicating a portion of available Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) funds to purchase seedlings to construct or repair windbreaks. Property owners in the 27 counties covered by the Governor’s proclamation may receive up to 75 percent of the estimated or eligible repair costs, not to exceed $1,600 per farmstead windbreak or $600 per acre for a field windbreak.

“Windbreaks are important additions to the landscape because they help protect homes and buildings from high winds and drifting snow, and field windbreaks offer agronomic benefits and help prevent soil erosion,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is pleased to offer cost share relief to help replace damaged trees in the areas hit hardest by the derecho.”

Applications for this targeted REAP program will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2020. Interested farmers and landowners can contact the local USDA Service Center for more information.

Best Practices for Replacing Windbreaks

The DNR State Forest Nursery in Ames produces bareroot seedlings for conservation plantings for landowners looking to replace their windbreak, and specific seedling packets for attracting and supporting wildlife. The inventory can be viewed and ordered online at nursery.iowadnr.gov.

For homeowners living in the path of the derecho winds, tree selection is equally important.

Pause and plan, before you plant, said Emma Hanigan, urban forester with the Iowa DNR.

“Make sure the site is ready by assessing the mature trees around the planting site. Look for hanging limbs or cracks in nearby trees to make sure storm damaged trees have proper tree care prior to planting,” Hanigan said. “Think about spacing and distance for energy efficiency and call to locate underground utilities. Lastly, be sure to select the right species and get quality stock.”

A list of nurseries that provide trees that are native to Iowa is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website.

“Nothing could withstand the 120 miles per hour wind that hit Cedar Rapids, but tree selection is important to withstand damage from more common storms,” Hanigan said. “Fast growing trees, like soft maples, are popular because we want shade as soon as possible, but they aren’t as storm resistant and got hit really hard. We want people to think it through before planting, and waiting six months or a year before replanting is okay. The goal should be to have a healthy tree here 30 years from now.”

Seedlings may be planted into the first week of November, but after that, it's best to wait until spring. Additional tree planting tips can be found on the DNR’s website.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov