General FAQs

Whatcom Million Trees Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization in Bellingham. Our mission is to plant and protect one-million trees in Whatcom County — to urgently address climate and biodiversity crises and to enhance the health and resilience of our local communities.

Our focus is to think innovatively and BIG to form unique partnerships and/or funding approaches to plant and protect more trees in non-wetland areas of Whatcom County. (Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association has long worked at restoring local streams/tributaries/wetlands.) Virtually all funds raised will support local tree planting and protection efforts. Another big part of our focus is to hold compelling community events to raise community awareness about the multi-faceted benefits of trees and forests.

We have our own team of tree-planting/work crew volunteers for smaller projects. (Join them!) For our larger tree-planting projects, we usually work with one or more of our partners below who have decades of successful tree-planting experience locally.

Our million-trees goal includes protecting existing mature trees, not just planting trees. After all, protecting existing mature forests and urban trees gives immediate carbon capture and biodiversity benefits, plus many other community health and climate adaptation benefits – mature trees clean our air, improve our drinking water quality, cool neighborhoods during heat events, and reduce flooding. They also reduce people’s stress, improve cardiovascular and other health outcomes, and bring many other quality of life benefits.

New tree seedlings will not become carbon positive — meaning they will capture more carbon than they emit — until they are 12-20 years old. Although loggers and developers frequently use planting of ‘replacement trees’ to justify clear-cutting, mature trees can’t truly be replaced in the time scale of human lives (and the rapidly accelerating climate crisis) where the benefits of mature trees and forests matter.

The usual mix of native trees we plant depend on site conditions (i.e. soil moisture, sun exposure). Species we often plant include Douglas fir, Western red cedar, Cascara, Bigleaf Maple, Paper Birch, Grand Fir, Hawthorn, Dogwood, and Vine Maple. We usually plant two-year old seedlings.

Many of us are deeply concerned (and already affected) by the climate crisis. But here’s the reality: there are no easy solutions. Systemic changes in government policies, corporate/industry practices, lifestyle changes, and more are all needed to greatly reduce our carbon emissions. Planting new trees plus protecting hundreds of thousands of large, mature forest tree canopy to increase carbon sequestration is simply one piece of a multi-faceted approach. But it’s an important piece. And when well-conceived and ecologically-sound, it also provides numerous health and well-being benefits to all life.

Many multifaceted ways! See our current tree protection efforts.

In the short term, if you are comfortable with it and can locate the property owner, try to contact them and find out what their plans are. As long as you are courteous and don’t assume the worst, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and you might find out valuable information. If you can’t locate or contact the property owner, or contact them and don’t get a timely or helpful response, you can reach out to the government entity that has jurisdiction over the area/development to find out more about the laws in the area, and if possible/applicable, make an official report. If it’s not in or near a protected natural area such as a watershed or other wetland, be prepared to find out nothing can be done at this time.

In the longer term, you can use this experience to fuel your advocacy for greater legal protections for trees on private land! Learn about our local tree retention advocacy here, and contact us if you’d like to get involved!

No. WMTP recognizes that Bellingham needs more infill development — especially affordable, smaller footprint infill housing. As the city grows, high-density commercial developments will also become more common. Infill versus mature urban tree retention is not an either/or choice. BOTH goals are simultaneously achievable. Learn more about our stance here.

No. We believe logging within Whatcom County should only occur in existing plantation timberlands, NOT within our legacy forests — especially near the Nooksack River and its tributaries which are so vital for salmon. We recognize our society will have a continued demand for wood. Wood products CAN be part of a more sustainable future, especially when harvested selectively and responsibly. But that is not what’s occurring currently. Not even close. Learn more about our stance here.

Tree costs vary depending on land accessibility, extent of volunteer help, and other variables. Steps include site preparation (such as removing invasive blackberry and reed canary grass, big issues in our region), tree seedling purchase, interim storage (usually refrigerated), site delivery, planting team coordination costs, and maintenance and monitoring for a few years. Elsewhere in the world these steps sometimes total to ~$1/tree. Here in Whatcom County they tend to add up to $7-$12 per tree, depending on the site. Thus we budget $10/tree on average. That’s why we’re focused on innovative co-funding to cover the full costs of such projects.

Most of our native tree seedlings are sourced from Washington Association of Conservation Districts’ Plant Materials Center, and Fourth Corner Nurseries. However, we also accept ‘volunteer’ seedlings that have sprouted on their own in places people don’t want trees growing (we call this Tree Seedling Rescue).

For this program, we are currently only interested 12″-24″ tall seedlings of the following trees:
Douglas fir
Grand fir
Sitka spruce
Western red cedar*
Bigleaf maple

*as of late March 2024 we are currently not accepting cedar seedlings as we have too many, but this will likely change in the future

Where we plant depends on a variety of factors including soil type, drainage, slope, light availability, other vegetation (often invasives need to be removed prior to planting), and accessibility, as well as approval from whatever local government entity/department/organization has jurisdiction over the site.

Our primary focus is planting “right species in the right place” — native tree seedlings in sites that have a public purpose or benefit, such as…
— parks, trails & Greenways,
— other public sites (campuses, schools, libraries, etc.),
— multi-user facilities (health care, faith centers, etc.),
— public mitigation sites, buffers & tree ‘banks’,
— urban open spaces (via mini-forests), and
— assisted regeneration forest areas.

Yes! There are many awesome and affordable ways businesses can partner with us. << Please click this link!

Carbon offsets/credits cannot be purchased from us. However, if you’re a business seeking estimates of how many trees to plant based on your sustainability or carbon neutrality goals, we can help you estimate this. We have already done this for a local contractor — A1DesignBuild. Please contact us.

Yes, absolutely! We have been holding fun work parties in local parks and public lands. Please get on our contact list to be notified of upcoming work parties. All are well-run, safe, full of fresh air, good exercise, and for a very good cause!

Awesome! Check out our volunteering page for how you can get more involved. Thanks!

As of the beginning of 2024, we have about 400 volunteers on our work party mailing list, almost 800 e-newsletter subscribers, seven board members, and a thirteen-person team of administrative staff (mostly volunteers including our Executive Director and Planting Coordinator; an Americorps intern, and a full-time paid Operations Manager).

Dependent upon grants received, we hope to be hiring a few independent contractors for specific initiatives in early-mid 2024 forward. These will be advertised on this site, in our e-newsletter (subscribe!), and on social media (Facebook, Instagram).

We also are coordinating with Americorps to provide internship positions for those who qualify, and partner with Washington Conservation Corps, whose crews provide invaluable site prep/invasives removal services for our future tree-planting sites.

Check spam folders to be sure nothing is going to spam, and make sure both info@whatcommilliontrees.org and volunteering@whatcommilliontrees.org are in your approved senders list. If nothing is in spam, you may want to try signing up again. It’s possible it didn’t fully submit the first time, or there may have been a typo. Our system automatically reconciles duplicate email addresses, so you don’t need to worry about getting duplicate emails. You can also send an email to either of the above addresses to ask us to check whether your email is on the list correctly.

Donation FAQs

Definitely! In our cool donation app and other donation options we provide, the amount you give in USD will be automatically converted from your local currency.

Yes. As a 501c3 non-profit, tax-deductible benefits may be available to you within the guidelines of U.S. law. To claim a donation as a deduction on your U.S. taxes, please keep our email donation receipt as your official record. We’ll send it to you upon successful completion of your donation.

Yes. Although our donation page can process bank fund transfers, if you prefer to mail in a donation, please make the check to “Whatcom Million Trees Project” and mail it to: Whatcom Million Trees Project, 4107 Harrison St., Bellingham, WA 98229. Please remember to print and fill out this form and enclose it with the check, and be sure to include your email address so we can email a receipt to you that you can use in your year-end tax return.

Yes! Simply choose the Recurring Donation Amount option in our donation app. Then you will be able to enter an amount and month, quarter or yearly repeat rate. You can also set a date for the payments to stop. (Or you can always contact us anytime you want to stop.)

Yes! Please click the Dedicate This Gift button in our donation app. You can optionally notify someone of this gift by email.

Yes. For a donation under $250, you will receive a personalized email thank you letter from us. You can forward that to who you desire, or print and mail it to the person. For a donation $250 or greater, you (or whoever you specify) will receive a beautiful thank you card by mail from us.

Yes! Simply choose that option during the donation check-out process.

Yes! A contribution of appreciated securities may create significant tax savings* for you and help you to be more philanthropic than you imagined possible. For details, please contact us. *Please consult your own tax advisor/CPA for your unique situation.

We’re a mostly volunteer-run non-profit that works remotely, even post-covid. So our overhead/operational costs are relatively low. That’s how we can guarantee that 90% or more of all donations will go locally towards healthy and thriving forests and parks.

It will depend on the time of year you donate and how long it takes for us to raise additional funds for the planting project site. In general, tree plantings usually will occur during colder/wetter months (November-April) to give tree seedlings optimal conditions for survival.

We will work hard to keep you in the loop on how your donation is being used. When your planting session takes place, you’ll receive an update with photos and information provided by our partners.

Have a question we haven’t answered? Please give us a shout!

Whatcom Million Trees Project

Bellingham, WA, USA
(360) 319-1370

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