The Ecology Action Center’s new Tree Corps is a brand-new tree planting initiative for Bloomington-Normal and McLean County which aims to significantly increase tree-planting in our community, with a goal of 10,000 new trees annually for at least the next 10 years.
Tree Corps is a key strategy of the EAC’s still-in-development BN Clean Air Plan, which will set targets for local reduction of both greenhouse gas emissions and air quality pollutants like ozone and develop strategies to reach those targets.
This is the EAC’s second such large scale tree planting initiative; the first was launched decades ago when the Ecology Action Center was known as Operation Recycle and included much of what is now Comlara Park. The current Tree Corps initiative launched in 2021 to coincide with the EAC’s 50th anniversary of the founding of Operation Recycle in 1971 .
The “Mohr Trees!” project is a partnership with the ParkLands Foundation, the McLean County Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Living Lands and Waters. The Ecology Action Center pledged to help ParkLands plant 4,200 small trees at the Mohr Tract near Lexington in April 2021. With the help of Living Lands and Waters, the EAC now hopes to more than double that number to plant 10,000 trees in 2021.
The trees planted will all be native hardwood species including black oak, red oak, white oak, bur oak, pecan, and shagbark hickory. These trees are cost-effective bare-roots seedlings.
To meet the need for both donations and volunteer labor for planting, the EAC is challenging church congregations, community groups, workplace groups, families, and any other interested group of people to commit to support planting 100 trees through this project by forming a Tree Corps Team.
Each Team can get started by making their pledge towards 100 trees (or more!) at Tree-Corps.org under the “Mohr Trees” section. At $5 per tree (which covers the cost of both a tree and related supplies and expenses) the minimum group pledge is $500, and lining up a few volunteers to help with planting (if possible, given that planting workdays will be weather dependent). To further increase the impact and leverage donations, Living Lands and Waters as part of their One Million Trees project will match every tree donation with another tree. These matching donations will be planted at nearby ParkLands parcels including the Merwin Preserve.
To create a new Tree Team, a group simply needs a name (which can be the name of the church congregation or workplace), an assigned individual to organize the group–the Team Captain, a pledge towards a specific number of trees, and a commitment to work to meet that pledge by April 10, 2021.
Tree Teams can raise the money towards their pledge amount within their groups, through family or friends, or by any other legal means.
EAC staff will coordinate planting workdays with Tree Leaders; the Mohr Tree planting is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of April 10, 2021 with workdays on Saturday and Sunday in morning and afternoon shifts. Understanding that individuals have other commitments and limited flexibility, supplying volunteers for planting is desirable but not mandatory.
Planting workdays will require adherence to COVID-19 protocols to include at least face coverings and social distancing.