Assisted Tree Range Expansion

Kama Ross and Maddy Baroli

Over the past year,  Forestry Assistant Maddy Baroli has worked with Kama Ross, District Forester for Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau Counties to develop a new program for citizen scientists. Beginning this month (March 2020), these foresters will be encouraging citizens to assist in planting a variety of trees that are much more common in Southern Michigan in response to the changing climate.

The changing climate is bringing warmer average temperatures, longer frost-free growing seasons, more extreme storms and more frequent droughts. These are conditions similar to  more southerly areas of Michigan and beyond. As a result, the forests of Northwest Lower Michigan are changing and suffering losses.

The Assisted Tree Range Expansion Project has been created for Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties to engage citizens in planting trees that may be better adapted to a changing climate. Many of these trees are familiar to residents of Southern Michigan such as shagbark hickory, tulip poplar, sassafras, hackberry, black tupelo and swamp white oak. These trees may thrive here and help replace some of the tree species now being lost like beech and ash trees.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please consider attending one of the special events planned this month or following up with the Leelanau Conservation District. More information about this new citizen science program is available at or on the Leelanau Conservation District’s website, here.

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