Tree Planting Collaboration Project 

Tree Planting Collaboration Project

Keywords: Beautification, Tree planting, Biodiversity, Air pollution, Ecosystems, Forests – preventing deforestation

Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Great River Greening, and Rotary Clubs in District 5950


District 5950 has both challenged the clubs in our District to plant trees and has established a district committee that is partnering with local environmental groups to plant trees.  As a result of these efforts we are on track to plant over 25,000 trees this year including 3,000 in conjunction with this year’s District Conference.  See below for a summary of our projects.

RI President Ian Riseley has said “Protecting the environment and curbing climate change are essential to Rotary’s goal of sustainable service.  The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern.”  The president-elect challenged every Rotary club to make a difference by planting a tree for each of its members, with a goal of planting 1.2 million trees worldwide, this Rotary year.  “It is my hope that the result of that effort will be far greater than the environmental benefit that those 1.2 million new trees will bring,” Riseley said. “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but to the planet itself.”

District Governor Bob Halagan has challenged every club in District 5950 to plant at least one tree for every member in their club, with a goal of planting 2,800 trees this Rotary year.  Although many clubs have already begun planning a tree planting project for this year, it is unlikely that all clubs will do a tree planting project this year.

The Nature Conservancy has a goal of planting one billion trees by the year 2025.  Eight Rotarians from eight different Rotary District 5950 clubs ** met with the Nature Conservancy on August 1, 2017 to discuss a possible collaboration.  Representing the Nature Conservancy were Flannery Delaney, Associate Director of Philanthropy, and Jim Manolis, Forest Conservation Program Director.  Steve Solbrack, St. Louis Park Noon, is a member of The Nature Conservancy Global Advisory Council (GAC) for MN, ND & SD, and Peggy Leppik with the Golden Valley club is the co-chair of the GAC.  Katie Brom, Volunteer Coordinator with Great River Greening, met with Steve Solbrack, Flannery Delaney, and Tom Gump, Edina Morningside, in September to plan volunteer activities.

The project goal is to plant over 26,000 trees in Minnesota this Rotary year.  This is in addition to the trees planted by individual clubs doing their own local tree planting projects.  This will be accomplished through a combination of club contributions, DDF funds, The Nature Conservancy challenge match, and Rotarian volunteer tree planting events.

The goal is to raise $10,000 from Rotary clubs, Rotarians, and non-Rotarians.  The Nature Conservancy will provide a challenge match of up to $10,000 for every dollar raised.  The District would provide $6,000 from DDF for a District grant.  This would give us a total of $26,000 of funds for the project.

The Nature Conservancy has scaled their tree planting to the point they can plant trees for $1 per tree.  The $26,000 of funds would be used to plant over 24,000 trees in Minnesota.  We will need $2,000 to cover expenses outline below.  The trees would be planted in Minnesota, but not necessarily in District 5950.  The likely locations for the trees will be the North Shore, Upper Mississippi watershed, or Rum River watershed.

DG Bob has challenged every Rotary club to plant at least one tree for every member.  It would be great if every club would do a project, but it is unlikely that every club will do so.  I would suggest that we ask every club that does not do a tree planting project to contribute $10 per member toward the collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.  So far ten Rotary clubs have been invited to participate in funding.  Eight clubs have pledged a total of $3,250, one club board has approved a $600 pledge, but is awaiting Foundation board approval, and the other club’s leadership team is considering participation.  The clubs that have made a pledge are North Minneapolis – $220; St. Louis Park Noon – $350; Bloomington – $250; Buffalo – $500; Edina Morningside – $930; Glenwood – $250; Golden Valley – $300; and Eden Prairie Noon – $450.

There are three volunteer opportunities planned under this District Grant proposal, open to all Rotarians in District 5950.  The first volunteer opportunity will be a tree planting project on the North Shore, north of Two Harbors, sometime between May 1 and June 15, 2018.  The Nature Conservancy will supervise and coordinate the tree planting.  The plan is to plant trees on a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  The goal would be to have 20 Rotarians plant 2,000 trees in 2 days.  The trees will be seedlings, and the pine trees will get fencing to protect them from the deer.  These trees would be a part of the 24,000 trees purchased with the funds.  This opportunity would also include an opportunity for fellowship with an overnight stay in Two Harbors or Duluth Canal Park.

The second volunteer opportunity will be an urban tree planting event in collaboration with Great River Greening.  The event will take place at Crosby Farm Regional Park, located on the Mississippi River in St. Paul.  While not in District 5950, it is only two or three miles from District 5950.  Great River Greening does not have any projects planned in District 5950, and cannot organize one for next spring.  The tree planting will take place on Sunday May 20, 2018 in the afternoon.  The plan is to promote this event in conjunction with the District Conference on Monday, May 21, 2018 (has not yet been approved or endorsed by the District Conference Committee).  The goal is to have 75 Rotarians plant up to 3,000 trees.  The trees will likely be a range between small, bare-root and older, potted trees.  Great River Greening will charge us $1,500 for costs for the project.  They will not charge us for staff costs or overhead, but they have about $5,000 of additional costs for the event, and we will pay for a portion of those costs.  These trees will be in addition to the 24,000 trees planted by the Nature Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy had done tree planting events with Great River Greening, and the experience has been great.  Summit Brewery is walking distance from where we will be parking by Crosby Farm Regional Park.  We have reserved Summit Brewery for the evening.  Still need to get more details, but my understanding is we will get free tours, and discounted tap beers.

The third volunteer opportunity we are proposing (has not yet been approved or endorsed by the District Conference Committee) is to do a seed bomb project the afternoon of the District Conference.  If this is not approved and endorsed by the District Conference committee, it will not be included in the project.  I am still waiting for a more detailed description of this event from Great River Greening.  This opportunity just came up in our meeting last week.  The basic idea is that you take a mixture of clay and dirt and make it into a ball.  You imbed seeds in the seed bomb.  I think they will be native grasses, flowers, and/or shrubs.  They can be planted almost anywhere.  Still need to work on details and cost.  I am guesstimating about $500 for now.

The other opportunity that is exciting to think about is the potential to start a new non-traditional club based upon an ecology or environmental theme, as opposed to a community based club.  This will not be directly included in the grant application, and will not be included in the measurable outcomes in the final report.  DG Bob Halagan and I are excited about the possibilities, and feel this is related to the tree planting project, and the collaboration.  The targeted prospective members would be millennials, meeting evenings or weekends, with fewer meetings, and more of a focus on fellowship and service.  Steve Solbrack presented the tree planting project, and the planned new Rotary club, to The Nature Conservancy Global Advisory Council recently, and they were very excited about the idea.  Rotary needs more millennials joining Rotary, and the Nature Conservancy needs to find ways to get millennials more connected with nature.  This could be another great way to expand the collaboration into future years.

**  District 5950 Rotarians attending the meeting on August 1 were Bob Halagan, Buffalo, Kim Ross, Eden Prairie Noon, Tom Gump, Edina Morningside, Lloyd Campbell, Glenwood, Susan Smith, North Minneapolis, Peggy Leppik, Golden Valley, Bob Erickson, Bloomington, Steve S.