Insurance claim money earmarked for rebuilding a tornado-devastated tree nursery in eastern Kentucky may be spent instead to help close a state government budget gap, putting the nursery’s future at risk.
The nursery, one of two operated by the Kentucky Division of Forestry, was flattened by the March 2012 tornado that raked West Liberty in Morgan County. It produces more than 1 million seedlings a year, all native varieties chosen to match the region’s climate and soil. ...
The nursery offers native trees at a reasonable price, said Henry Duncan of Versailles, a past president of the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association, which has about 200 members.
The bare-root seedlings are available in bundles of 10 or 100 and range from $30 to $48 per bundle, according to the agency’s website.
Duncan said some of the work at the nursery seeks to bring back the American chestnut, which was wiped out by a blight in the early 1900s. The nursery also grows most of the trees for planting on reclaimed strip mines, he said.
The only other state nursery, in Western Kentucky, could not meet statewide demand, he said. Commercial nurseries out of state are more expensive and don’t usually offer seed stock that comes from Kentucky trees, which makes them better suited for survival in Kentucky, he added.
I can't think of any reason not to expect entry into this market by a private Kentucky nursery firm. The resulting seedling price might be higher without government subsidies but there may be little reason to subsidize tree growing.
That is, unless the carbon sequestration benefits exceed the cost of the subsidies. But I'd argue this is a role for the federal government and not the states. And those benefits are likely less than the costs since climate change is a global problem, the difference between the number of subsidized public seedlings and private seedlings is likely to have small climate impacts and the impacts are way down the road.