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Madison High School Students Plant History

Madison High School Students Plant History

A student at Shabazz City High School planting trees.

In the fall of 2023, Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC)’s Matt Noone collected acorns from a 250-year-old Red Oak tree at Malcolm Shabazz City High School, a part of the Madison Metropolitan School District. On Monday, April 22, students at the school planted those acorns and are now eagerly waiting for trees to begin popping up.

“I was looking forward to the tree planting event,” said Vanessa, a Malcolm Shabazz City High School student. “It’s going to be really cool to say that I planted a tree that will be here in 100 years.”

The 200 trees planted will start sprouting over the next several weeks. All trees were placed in a tree crib constructed by Operation Fresh Start, a local nonprofit helping disconnected young adults ages 16-24 transition to adulthood. The tree crib will protect the trees from chipmunks, squirrels and other critters.  

The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, along with the Dane County Tree Board, have held numerous tree-planting events like this one as a part of the Dane County Heritage Oak Project, which originally began in 1976 as part of a bicentennial celebration of the founding of our country. At that time, DNR conservationist Walter Scott identified 443 oaks over 200 years of age within an 8-mile radius of the Capitol. By 2001, arborist Bruce Allison found that only half these oaks remained—the other half had died, been cut down for development or as hazards, or could not be relocated.

“Dane County’s Heritage Oak trees are living artifacts and a connection to our past,” said CARPC Environmental Resources Planner Matt Noone. “They have been here long before Wisconsin was a state or America was a country. We can’t bring the Heritage Oak trees that were lost back, but we can preserve the ones still here and extend the genetic lineage of the trees that are best locally adapted to our area.”

These historic trees have many economic and environmental benefits, including improving the area’s air quality, reducing flooding, providing shade and combating climate change.

After the tree planting event at the high school on Monday, CARPC’s Matt Noone and the Dane County Tree Board gave away over 200 Red Oak and Bur Oak trees at Dane County Parks’ Earth Day Extravaganza event. They will also be giving away another 400 trees at Henry Vila Zoo’s Party for the Planet event on Saturday, May 4.

To learn more about the Heritage Oak Project and CARPC’s tree canopy work, visit: https://www.capitalarearpc.org/2022-heritage-oak-project/.