Get Ready for The Big Plant

Surprise order comes from a familiar place

Leaders and active participants in The Big Plant have seen more interest this year from people who want to help replace the trees that Door County keeps losing to diseases and development. Last year, 15,000 trees were planted countywide during The Big Plant.

Jeff Lutsey, executive director of the Climate Change Coalition of Door County, said many organizations and companies buy trees in bulk each year around Earth Day for mass plantings, but this year he became aware of more individuals buying 50 trees or more to share with people in their neighborhoods.

In addition, Lutsey said he had a pleasant surprise this winter when an owner of the former Bay Ridge Golf Course called to ask for volunteers to show up one day to plant more than 200 white pine trees. Since 2020, Dianne Trenchard and her family have been allowing the nine-hole course to grow back to nature, and she gave it a boost when she had 100 balsam firs planted between one former fairway, Pebble Beach, and the former Fred and Fuzzy’s site. This year, the white pines will be planted in a former rough and waste area to the right of a long, par-four hole, Lutsey said.

“We’re putting in at least 200 white pines, and there could be more,” he said. “Her plant is the last plant, so we could have some left over.”

Lutsey said the 1-year-old saplings and seedlings given away during Big Plant efforts tend to fare well if volunteers or landowners take good care of the young trees during the first two years. He advises watering them at planting and giving each a bucket of water during dry spells during the first year after planting. In addition, a shovelful of mulch around each new tree can help, but he advises not allowing the mulch to touch the stems of the young trees.

“When people are caring, the survival rate is just over 50%,” Lutsey said.

He and a group of like-minded people are starting to keep some data on the trees planted, such as a future grove of trees on a swath of land east of Highway 57, north of Baileys Harbor and south of the Mud Lake Natural Area.

Deer browse can also be a problem, although Lutsey said that in general, deer avoid white pines unless they run out of more desirable food. He also advised people who are planting trees other than white pines – such as deciduous trees – to consider placing a planting tube or fencing with fine mesh around them for two years to prevent small animals and deer from eating them.

Volunteer Planting and Free Trees

Area residents and visitors are welcome to join the planting days at five sites, including the former Bay Ridge Golf Course site, 2688 S. Bay Shore Dr. in Sister Bay, on Saturday, May 6, 2-5 pm.

The Climate Change Coalition of Door County is hoping to see up to 30 volunteers per site and date. In addition to the May 6 planting, join these efforts: 

• Friday, April 21, 9 am – 12 pm, Horseshoe Bay Farms, 7212 Horseshoe Bay Road in Egg Harbor
• Sunday, April 23, 1-3 pm, Crossroads at Big Creek, 2041 Michigan St. in Sturgeon Bay
• Wednesday, April 26, 1-5 pm, Newport State Park, 475 Cty NP in Ellison Bay
• Friday, April 28, 2-5 pm; and Saturday, April 29, 9 am – 1 pm, Mink River Preserve, 11801 Cty NP in Ellison Bay

Some organizations and groups have yet to announce the locations and dates for their tree giveaways. The Door County Land Trust, for example, has not announced the dates, times and locations for its tree and perennial giveaway as of the deadline for this issue, but the Land Trust is one of the biggest participants in planting on its own and providing trees for planting countywide.

Tree-giveaway details known at this time are:

• Saturday, April 22, 10 am – 4 pm, Every Day Is Earth Day Festival, Kress Pavilion, 7845 Church St. in Egg Harbor
• Saturday, April 22, 10 am – 5 pm, Waseda Farms Market, 7281 Logerquist Road in Baileys Harbor
• Sunday, April 23, 1-3 pm, Earth Day Festival, Crossroads at Big Creek, 2041 Michigan St. in Sturgeon Bay
• Saturday, April 29, 10 am – 4 pm, Barney Fun Run, Sister Bay Bowl, 10640 N. Bay Shore Dr.
• Sunday, May 7, 10 am – 12 pm, Ephraim Village Hall, ​​9996 Hwy 42

At most locations, stocks of trees can run out prior to the end of the scheduled giveaway time. Find more information at

Related Organizations