Plant for the planet

KLT holds Earth Day celebration

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Clockwise from bottom left, Eileen Reeves, Jamie Thyrion, Miriam Pickens and Michelle Morgan repot seedlings at the Keweenaw Land Trust’s Earth Day celebration Monday.

HANCOCK — Volunteers repotted thousands of native plant seedlings at the Keweenaw Land Trust headquarters for Earth Day.

The plants come from Brian Black, a faculty member at Bay College who grows native plants in his greenhouse for the local chapter of Wild Ones. Each year, he donates the extras, which get split between Keweenaw Land Trust and the Wild Ones Keweenaw Chapter, said Jill Fisher, program manager and botanist at KLT.

Wild Ones holds plant sales which help disperse the plants through the community and raise funds for educational events. The KLT will grow its plants in tunnels in the yard, then put them out on its lands to improve the habitat there.

“It’s gonna get cold over the next couple of nights, but they’re native plants and they’re hardy, so they’re trying to get them used to being outside,” Fisher said. “They should do fine.”

This year, Black’s plants came in early, making it the first year it’s become an Earth Day event.

A number of plant varieties were on hand: big and little bluestem grasses, cup plants, Joe Pye weed, columbines and more.

KLT has projects on the way for next year where they’ll need a large number of plants at once. Some of them will be used to establish islands of life on stamp sands donated to the KLT at Point Mills.

It’s kind of hard to put down enough soil across the whole area to have plants grow, but we’re going to try to create these islands of life by planting the herbaceous stuff, shrubs and trees all together with some woody debris in there. And then hope that through the leaves falling down over time builds soil and it can kind of grow out from the island,” Fisher said.

If trials this year pan out, KLT will scale it up next year, Fisher said.

Michelle Morgan of Eagle Harbor is a member of both groups. She came because “it was a beautiful day, and a good thing to do on Earth Day.” She and others were repotting bergamot, a native plant beloved by bees and butterflies.

“It’s so much fun, because you’re doing it with other people, and many hands make light work,” she said. “I’ve gotten to meet some new people.”

B Lauer, communications and program specialist at KLT, said the day also leads into the KLT’s volunteer activities for the rest of the summer.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of stewardship, both things that are going to be here in our office and out in our properties,” she said. “So it’s a good kickoff to get people excited about coming out to help and volunteer with us.”

Members of Visit Keweenaw also took part in Monday’s activities.

It’s a way to give back to the efforts to maintain the beautiful spaces that help people connect with the Keweenaw, said Executive Director Brad Barnett. It’s also good for team-building and meeting other people in the community.

“What’s fun about these types of projects is that Jill and her team and B are teaching us all about a lot of the native species here and the value that they bring,” he said. “We’re going to take some of this home with us to plant in our own gardens.”


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