Family takes tree planting to the next level

Nearly 35,000 trees, neatly arranged in rows, outline the landscape south of Menoken. If lined up in a single row, these trees would stretch nearly 28 miles. Thanks to the time and commitment of Capital Electric Cooperative (CEC) members Andy and KariAnn Buntrock, trees are taking center stage on the prairie they call home.

The Buntrocks purchased their 360 acres in 2006 with the intention of moving to the country and enjoying the peaceful surroundings that rural North Dakota offers. Of all the things country living in North Dakota can boast, an abundance of trees is not often one of them. Knowing they wanted trees, and lots of them, they embarked on a journey to populate the area with varieties they knew would thrive in a western North Dakota climate.

The beauty of their plan was they didn’t have to go it alone. The Burleigh County Soil Conservation District (BCSCD) office in Bismarck had the expertise and willingness to help. Since trees are extremely beneficial to the reduction of soil erosion, the BCSCD is focused on assisting landowners with the planning, planting and consulting of shelterbelts in Burleigh County. Trees provide many benefits beyond soil health, such as keeping snow from blowing over the road, providing a habitat for wild birds and animals and providing shade from the hot summer sun.

According to Darrell Oswald, BCSCD manager, “The Buntrocks have been tireless in their efforts to replace any trees that do not survive, often planting hundreds of hand plants in the spring. As a result of their extra effort, the plantings are thriving and functioning at a high level.”

They began planting trees on their property and continued to live in Bismarck until 2016. They spent countless hours planning and planting, and continued even after they moved into their newly constructed home.

“Every year, we have to replant a batch of trees. We have friends and family help us to make the work go a little faster. We really count on them to get it all done,” explains Andy. Their commitment to keeping the shelterbelts filled with living trees is evident in the outstanding effort they put into the process.

KariAnn adds, “We have relied heavily on Darrell and the other employees at the soil conservation service to make sure we are doing it the right way. They were invaluable in making this dream a reality for us.”

CEC presented the Buntrocks with the BCSCD Tree Care Award at its November annual mixer. The award is sponsored and presented annually by the cooperative.


Andy is the manager of strategic planning and member support at Basin Electric Power Cooperative. KariAnn works remotely from home for Eide Bailly, LLP as an information specialist for the communications department. Andy and KariAnn have two little girls, Tyne (4) and Quinn (2).

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