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The Industrial Forest Finds New Life With Mayor Steve Bakken



Jason Spiess was ready to throw in the shovel and rebrand The Industrial Forest until Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken slapped some sense into him.


“Sometimes life is about patience and timing,” Mayor Bakken said. “Jason is always leading with his heart and thinking second, that’s why he’s the Hippie Capitalist. The Industrial Forest is a solution to so many issues in life and industry. It will be built in Bismarck.”


After driving thousands of miles across the United States to meet with oil companies and attending multi-person conference calls, Jason struck out on all accounts.


“We met with about a dozen companies, had a couple dozen conference calls and sent out more than 750 emails regarding The Industrial Forest and struck out big time,” Jason said. “We not only didn't get a single sponsor or tree planted, we lost all our volunteers too.”


Jason said they felt a bit betrayed after they were told industry would listen and then they put their heart, soul and personal energy into the project only to be told they would “table it” until at least next year.


“It was like all the oil companies got the same memo that said ‘table it’ was the thing to say for environmental projects,” Jason said. “So I called Mayor Bakken and told him that maybe industry can not build a forest and I may have to look at Plan B and Plan C.”


Mayor Bakken immediately shut that talk down.


“I told Jason that not only would the city of Bismarck plant the first tree in The Industrial Forest, but we are going to show the world just how awesome an industry built forest can be,” Mayor Bakken said.




Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken (right) with then-United States Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (left)



Jason said after his talk with Mayor Bakken he felt inspired once again to pick up his shovel and cell phone.


“I contacted North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and gave him the quick version of my roadblocks, frustrations and rationales,” Jason said. “Everyone kept directing me to the ND Commerce Department and Governor’s office for grants and COVID funding but we got rejected there on all accounts too, without even a meeting. So we are very grateful that Commissioner Goehring was accessible to us and gave us some of his time.”


Jason lined up Commissioner Goehring for a meeting and Mayor Bakken coordinated with Bismarck City Forester Doug Wiles and the four met to move The Industrial Forest to the next phase.


They met for about an hour and narrowed the location down to three locations within city limits. One location includes an elementary school, one a touristy area and the other is in the River Front Development area.


The Micro-Industrial Forest is a one acre Walking and Education Park within the city limits of Bismarck. The Micro-Industrial Forest will be a smaller version of the 5-acre forest in the county.


The plan is to build a network of sustainable forests across the United States using Industry to plant 1000 trees in 50 states over the next 10 years. The construction of The Industrial Forests will start in 2022 with 3 states. First year states are North Dakota, Colorado and Texas.


In Texas, Jason has been working with several public officials in the Permian Basin and said there are a couple energy companies who believe they can use recycled frac water to water the trees in the Shade and Education Park scheduled for construction between Midland and Odessa.


Texas meetings are scheduled for June.


The minimum ESG-themed goal for The Industrial Forest is for a minimum of 50,000 trees and 10 million pounds of carbon consumed by Mother Earth. The word “minimum” is used because several cities are already exploring the idea of a Micro-Industrial Forest within the city limits.


Bismarck is the first city to start the process of A Micro-Industrial Forest.


Millions of trees have been planted over the past 30 years and nearly half die within the first year. From non profit tree planting events to municipal tree planting programs, it’s a real life problem and a serious eco-issue.


Lack of watering, transplant shock, special interests and poor growing conditions are a few reasons why trees are having a difficult time surviving. These are some of the reasons The Industrial Forest created the phrase – It Takes An Industry To Build A Forest.


“The coexistence of the environment and industry are truly amazing on so many levels,” Jason Spiess said. “From creating new jobs to water recycling to air quality filtrations to autonomous safety, industrial innovations are critical for a sustainable future.”


According to The Industrial Forest’s mission, the project does more than build sustainable forests, it also creates jobs and economic opportunity.


“Sustainability Sheds and Critical Pipeline Systems will need to be constructed and engineered to ensure the trees survive and produce an ecosystem that will consume carbon for decades,” Spiess said. “Local businesses like real estate professionals, mixed media artists, communication companies, wood fabricators and nurseries will be given opportunities for business during a time when many people’s doors are closing.”





In order to ensure the trees survive for decades, The Industrial Forest will implement a Sustainability Shed and a Critical Pipeline System.


The Industrial Forest will hold public meetings in each of the states leading up to the Planting Party and community BBQ. These public meetings are designed to provide engagement, communication, awareness, inclusion, transparency and flora direction from county extension officials.


“The Industrial Forest is building something that is truly unique and special. A forest that promotes environmental awareness for industry, creates jobs, consumes carbon, promotes the need for pipelines, demonstrates ethical capitalism and brings all walks of life together,” Mayor Bakken said. “This is the type of positive project I believe Bismarck would benefit from and am happy to pick up a shovel and get to work.”


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