ISHPEMING - There's an old adage that says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago - and the second best time is now.
Cliffs Natural Resources, teaming up with Boy Scout Troop 321 of Ishpeming and volunteers from Negaunee's Loy Lawns by Design, took that proverb to heart Wednesday afternoon.
The group planted 25 trees on a section of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail along Partridge Creek near Seventh Street in Ishpeming.
Loy Lawns by Design owner Kimme Peterson discusses with Boy Scouts of America Troop 321 of Ishpeming how to plant an Austrian pine tree to ensure that its correctly backfilled and level. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Tyler Thomas, 13, a member of Ishpeming’s Boy Scout Troop 321, loosens up the roots of an Austrian pine tree before planting it in the ground. Peterson and the Scouts were participating in Cliffs Natural Resources’ sixth annual tree planting event along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail near Partridge Creek in Ishpeming on Wednesday afternoon. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
The effort was part of Cliffs' sixth annual tree planting, aimed not just adding trees to public areas but also teaching a younger generation the importance of environmental stewardship.
"It'll be really good for the community," said Jennifer Huetter, district manager of public affairs in Michigan. "And of course then we teach the kids about ... giving back to your community, but then also environmental stewardship."
Kimme Peterson, owner of Loy Lawns, showed the kids how to remove the 3-foot Austrian pines from their plastic buckets, loosen up their network of roots by rubbing them with a gloved hand, lower them into holes dug in the rocky soil, backfill around their trunks with top soil and, finally, soak them with water.
Peterson said the pines, which are indigenous to the area, are very hardy.
"They'll do very, very well here," he said.
Huetter said Peterson is a great help to the project, "because he knows a lot about how to plant them and to do it correctly and to do it the right way, so we partner with him ... so that he's able to teach the kids even more."
Each year, Cliffs partners with a different organization for its arbor outreach, Huetter said, and also donates $500 to the group. Last year, area Girl Scouts planted trees at the Michigan Iron Mining Museum in Negaunee Township.
"We've always tried to do, each year, some type of a service to the community," she said.
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.