The Big Plant: Climate Change Coalition of Door County Prepares Monthlong, Community-wide Initiative to Plant Thousands of Trees

In these April 26, 2019, photos, volunteer Christina Studebaker shows a student how to plant a tree in Ellison Bay, and Southern Door earth-science students plant trees in Sturgeon Bay – both during the Spring Public Tree Planting coordinated by the Climate Change Coalition of Door County. The organization is supersizing that annual effort this year through The Big Plant: a new, community-wide initiative. Photos by Nicole Matson.

Tree planting is one of the most effective ways to help the environment. Visit the website of the Climate Change Coalition (CCC) of Door County, and it’ll tell you that trees clear pollution from the air, prevent soil erosion, protect groundwater and reduce energy consumption through windbreaks and shading. 

The volunteer CCC is a nonpartisan organization focused on educating the public about the science surrounding the climate crisis and promoting mitigation strategies. Planting trees is one such mitigation strategy. Trees are the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in carbon dioxide to mitigate the effects of climate change – about 12% of the carbon dioxide that Americans emit each year, according to the U.S. Forestry Service – and breathe out the oxygen on which life depends. 

Wildfire, invasive species and deforestation threaten trees, and when forests vanish, so, too, do their benefits and the wildlife and biological diversity they support.

A long way to say, let’s plant some trees.

That’s a request from the CCC, which is kicking off an inaugural event, The Big Plant. It will start on Earth Day, April 22, and extend through the end of May.

“We came up with the idea of The Big Plant to inspire and organize groups across the county,” said Roy Thilly, CCC co-chair.

Every spring, the CCC collaborates with community partners, The Nature Conservancy and the Forest Recovery Project to organize tree plantings with local schools and the public. The Big Plant supersizes that effort by raising awareness and empowering residents, businesses and local organizations across the peninsula to plant trees.

Kate LeRoy is organizing the CCC’s community-wide initiative to plant thousands of trees during the monthlong Big Plant.

“It’s for anyone and everyone,” LeRoy said.

Local organizations, municipalities and businesses are some of those joining the effort, in addition to the tree-planting efforts that organizations such as Crossroads at Big Creek and the Door County Land Trust coordinate annually. 

“The inspiration came from The Big Read,” LeRoy said. “A lot of people are getting out and planting trees, so why not cross-promote all the different plantings and really give it name recognition and get people excited to get out and plant more?”

The CCC has finalized an order with a local nursery for 5,000 evergreen saplings of native Door County species: white cedar, balsam fir, red and white pine, and red spruce. As of last week, 18 organizations, all the schools, a half dozen businesses and a handful of individuals had already committed to buying some of those trees to plant or hand out. 

“We’ll have the trees delivered to one spot, and we’ll organize the send-out of trees from there,” LeRoy said.

Coupled with The Nature Conservancy and Crossroads plantings, The Big Plant could mean 10,000 new trees planted across the peninsula this spring.

Though mass plantings with groups of volunteers is the typical way to go, the pandemic will limit the number of gatherings to create a quieter, more under-the-radar planting. 

“So this year, for the general public, it’s about picking up a tree and having them take it and go plant it, versus big group plantings,” LeRoy said.

Want to participate? Connect with the CCC through its contact information at, or email LeRoy at [email protected].

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