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Volunteer Power

With the help of SWMLC staff, a quartet of volunteers recently planted more than 200 trees in just one day!

Behold the power of volunteers – and thank you to those who have generously donated their time and labor to us! With the help of SWMLC staff, a quartet of volunteers recently planted more than 200 trees in just one day at Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy’s Wau-Ke-Na, W.E. Smith Preserve, South Tract.
They focused their work on the pond at the north end of the preserve, a quiet spot that used to be easily missed because its shoreline had been hijacked by autumn olive bushes that completely hid the water from view. That is, until earlier this spring when the SWMLC Stewardship Crew expertly zeroed in on removing the invasive, non-native shrubs.
SWMLC Stewardship Specialist Dave Brown guiding the volunteers in choosing young trees and prepping the planting area. | NWS WKNA
With the area now open, the tree-planting crew sweetened the diversity of species around the pond by planting young pussy willows, swamp white oaks, paw paws, meadowsweet, ninebark, and nannyberry. Once grown, the flowers and fruit of these trees and shrubs will provide more food for a greater variety of pollinating insects and foraging birds and mammals than the autumn olive did.
Dave Brown, SWMLC’s Stewardship Specialist, staged the area with supplies the day before so the volunteers could get jump right into digging holes with “dibbler” tools and tucking in each tiny sapling by hand. They pounded in stakes to hold the tall, white plastic tubes that protect the young trees from varmints and weather, and labeled each one with a species code. The work is tough but it’s satisfying to know that a new, resilient habitat is getting started.
The volunteers helped plant more than 200 trees that day!  NWS. |. WKNA
Volunteers used a "dibble" tool to prep the planting holes, and placed protective white tubes around the young trees.  NWS. |. WKNA
The work is part of a large tree planting project that SWMLC has undertaken with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund (which is generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation) that allows us to restore habitat with plant species that will better adapt to expected changes in the region’s weather patterns. We have already planted more than 1800 trees at Wau-Ke-Na’s North Tract (we urge you to go visit them!) and have thousands more to go later in the season.

The power of volunteers will sure come in handy – so please stay tuned for future calls to action!

Learn more about this huge, on-going SWMLC project that’s funded by Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Grant funding by reading these past stories:


SWMLC and Partners Receive National Grant
Keeping forests healthy in the face of climate change.
Making Omelettes
Removing non-native Douglas fir trees at Wau-Ke-Na, WE Smith Preserve.
Hemlocks for the Holidays
Highlighting the work that SWMLC and our project partners are doing locally to stop Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a devastating forest pest.
Planting for Resilience
Wau-Ke-Na’s North Tract receives 1,860 baby trees!
Tree Planting with a Twist
Page 6, Protecting Nature, Autumn 2020, Vol. 29, No. 3

Story, Amelia Hansen
Photos, Peter Ter Louw