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Let it Grow! Ohio’s Tree-planting Efforts Will Be Bolstered by New Seedling Nursery

One of the grand trees in the Mercer Old Growth Forest Preserve between Logan and Lancaster, owned by the Appalachia Ohio Alliance land conservancy, from their website.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry announced that a bill signed today by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will create the state’s only tree-seedling nursery.
The new Buckeye State Tree Nursery, which will be located on a Division of Forestry-owned property in Zanesville, will address regional shortages of suitable tree seedlings, assist with integral tree conservation projects, and invest in the future of Ohio’s forests.
“We are constantly striving to enhance conservation within Ohio’s forests,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. “This nursery helps us in that mission by improving access to Ohio-grown tree seedlings and expanding the supply for our many tree planting initiatives.”

Seedlings will grow in the new Buckeye State Tree Nursery for several tree species including white oak.

The establishment of the tree-seedling nursery was approved by the Ohio General Assembly as part of House Bill 101. It will be operated by ODNR and will support various ODNR projects, including H2Ohio, the Girl Scout Tree Promise, and abandoned mine land reclamation projects.
“Ohio creates a welcoming habitat to many beautiful and awe-inspiring trees,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Combining the new nursery with our partnerships across the state will lead to a boom in conservation projects. That includes taking another big step in our goal with the Girl Scout Tree Promise to plant 250,000 trees in Ohio by 2026.” 
“The Buckeye State Tree Nursery will address a region-wide shortage of quality seedlings for conservation projects, and it will help build a better supply of genetically suitable seedlings for planting in Ohio,” ODNR Division of Forestry Chief Dan Balser said.

Because of this shortage, conservationists are currently forced to primarily purchase seedlings from nurseries located out of state. The creation of the Buckeye State Tree Nursery will lead to faster production times, extended distribution, and high-quality seedlings suitable for Ohio’s environment.

Work on establishing the tree-seedling nursery will begin immediately with an initial start-up period. Tree seedlings will require a year or two to grow large enough for distribution. Plans are for Ohio-grown seedlings to be available in the spring of 2026. The Division of Forestry will choose tree species to grow based on factors like regional suitability and tree benefits with a focus on hard-mast producing species that are beneficial for multiple landowner purposes, including soil stability, timber, wildlife, and aesthetics. The species list will include trees such as oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut, sycamore and American chestnut, in cooperation with experts from The American Chestnut Foundation.

The new nursery will be located at the same site as the previous Zanesville Nursery, which closed in 2003. Seedlings will be grown in greenhouses and containers. The Buckeye State Nursery will begin operations on a portion of the property immediately by making needed improvements to property infrastructure and propagating its first seedlings.