ESCANABA The planting has begun.
About 60 new trees are taking root in town, the first volley in the campaign to green up Escanaba in time for its sesquicentennial.
Trees and shrubs were planted at the high school and upper elementary in late September, part of a partnership between the school district and Esky 150 Trees project, with funding from Plum Creek Timber Co. Foundation and several private donations.
"We were happy with how the plantings went and especially getting students and staff involved," said Escanaba Area High School Principal Doug Leisenring, noting that ongoing care will be incorporated into the school's Biology and Environmental Science classes.
Leisenring said the high school needed to replant 18 memorial trees that had been removed as part of its recent building upgrades and front entrance reconfiguration. In addition, the high school received a large landscape Burr oak an Esky 150 donation from Jeanine Dagenais and Harry and Sandy Krebs in honor of the marriage of John and Patt Besse.
Meanwhile, an "Autumn Blaze" maple was planted at the Upper Elementary School on Ludington Street on behalf of the EAHS Class of 1976.
The schools' landscape plans and tree selections were prepared with the donation of time by local horticulturist Dave Gafner.
In early October, local plantings got another boost from members of the Escanaba Migratory Bird Enhancement Initiative. EMBEI volunteers planted 34 trees and shrubs on Aronson Island through donations to the City of Escanaba from a Menominee County nursery.
Local residents are encouraged to drive by the two schools and the east end of Aronson Island to see for themselves the beginning of a lifetime of future growth of trees and shrubs to enhance the appearance and bird habitat of our area.
The Esky 150 Tree project was launched during an early brainstorming session by the sesquicentennial's steering committee. Besides the tree drive, the Esky 150 organization is planning a wide variety of events, exhibits and programs time to mark the city's 150th birthday next July 5-14 (see esky150.org for details).
A commitment of $10,000 by the finance and steering committees got the program up and running, followed by donations of $3,000 from Plum Creek and $2500 from American Transmission Co. In August, Bay College announced plans to support the Esky 150 project by funding $5000 for trees and landscaping near Bay's university center and the soccer field area.
Esky 150 Trees coordinator Marilyn Kinsey has also submitted grant requests to other clubs and organizations. To date, a total of $12,085 has been donated.
Contributions to pay for sesquicentennial events and expenses are also being sought by the Esky 150 Finance Committee.
The tree program is "a great way to honor someone, while also promoting community spirit, native species, improved bird habitat and outdoor education for young people," said Kinsey. She noted private donations are tax-deductible and are being accepted through the nonprofit Community Foundation for Delta County.
"Planting 150 trees is the project goal," explained Kinsey, "and if more donations are received, more trees and greenery will be planted." For as little as $5, a person can pledge money toward a bag of large daffodil bulbs to help add color to the community, she added.
Project assistant Lori Rose noted that trees will be available in price ranges. Donors can combine their efforts to sponsor a tree at the location of their choice.
"As folks sit down for Thanksgiving and deer season meals," she added, "it's a great time to look forward to the next year and think about going together on a tree investment."
Plantings will be held next April 22-27 in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day. The U.P. State Fairgrounds has also slated plantings in that same week, with stock from the annual Soil Conservation Service sale. The other plantings are set for Sept. 14-28 in city neighborhood parks, schools, and Bay College.
A list of all donors to the Esky 150 Trees project will be compiled and displayed at Escanaba City Hall.
For more information, call Kinsey at 786-2401 or go to: esky150.org/trees.