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Nursery Background

The nursery program in New York has been an integral part of forest stewardship on public and private lands since its inception in 1902, and DEC's Nursery in Saratoga Springs that still exists today was created in 1911. More than 1.6 billion seedlings have been produced by the State to enhance and protect the forest resource. Tree planting is a positive environmental management task that can be accomplished with minimal investment of time and money and does not require technical training to accomplish a successful planting. For this reason, small reforestation projects are popular with private landowners who are interested in environmental improvement. DEC encourages planting of trees and shrubs by providing nursery service to provide low cost, quality stock that is readily available to the public.

History of the Saratoga Tree Nursery

tree seedlings planted where a farm once existed
Tree seedlings planted on reforestation areas
which were previously abandoned farms

The Saratoga Tree Nursery is the oldest state forest tree nursery in the country. When DEC established the Nursery program in 1902, the original priority was reforestation. Reckless logging and forest fires had left bare slopes that were losing soil to erosion, contributing to serious flooding problems and contaminating water supplies. The present Nursery in Saratoga was established in 1911 as one of several State Nurseries across the State. In the decades before World War II, the primary mission of the Nursery was to grow conifer seedlings for water supply protection, soil protection and for timber plantations to ensure a steady supply of lumber.

In the early 1930s the State began the reforestation system by acquiring abandoned farms. Most of this land had to be planted to protect the soil. Nursery production rose to meet the demand, and peaked in 1938 at 72.8 million seedlings produced for planting just in that year. These plantings were mainly accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

With the establishment of the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970, which combined Natural Resources and Environmental Quality in one department, the Nursery's mission became more diverse. Along with traditional forest seedling production and wildlife shrubs, the Nursery also began to produce trees and shrubs for remediation, wetland restoration, riparian protection, with a focus on growing native species from local seed sources. Over the past hundred years, the Nursery has adapted to the changing needs of forestry and land management practices. The Nursery is an essential part of DEC that embodies the goals and mission in the form of living plants that support the multiple goals and missions of DEC.

state reforestation area
A State reforestation
area today

Nursery in the News


More about Nursery Background:

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  • Saratoga Tree Nursery
    2369 Route 50 South
    Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-4738
    518-581-1439
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