HALSEY -- J.Sterling Morton was ahead of his time in 1872, when he founded Arbor Day. He knew with the intense need for lumber, our forests would not last. Planting trees was needed then as well as now.
In 1902, Halsey Nursery was developed on 15 acres near Halsey, in order to provide seedlings that Botany Professor Charles Bessey of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, would begin to plant in his experimental forest reserve the next year.
His experiment became the largest hand planted forest in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. The nursery, which in 1915 became the Bessey Nursery in his honor, is the oldest in the Forest Service, one of only six in the United States still providing seedlings to not only replenish forests, but to provide seedlings for the NRDs (Natural Resource Districts) for communities and for individuals.
Arbor Day, 2014 made the perfect day to kick-off ‘The Discovery Loup Trail’ where over 60 tree species and shrubs can be seen in a loop around the Forest Visitor Center/Office. Sixty-five K-8 grade students and their sponsors from Sandhills Elementary came to help, as did students from UNK Honors program and their director, John Falconer.
“What an amazing production goes on in the center of our state. I knew seedlings went out of here, but did not realize they numbered 2.5 million a year!” exclaimed State Senator Al Davis.