Tree Seedling Rescues

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tree seedling rescue and planting | Whatcom Million Trees Project

WMTP Tree Protection Project

Native Tree Seedling Rescues

Transplanting Unwanted Native Tree Seedlings To Protected Lands Where They’ll Thrive

The idea is simple: Thousands of unwanted but healthy young native tree seedlings are destroyed every year in our County. Why not transplant some of them to where they can thrive, such as in one of our planting projects?
WMTP occasionally holds work parties to do exactly that at large sites, such as on November 12, 2022 at Big Rock Garden Park.
Individual homeowners can also contribute native tree seedlings to us. Especially in conifer-laden lands such as Sudden Valley, homeowners typically have lots of small evergreen tree seedlings sprouting on their property every year. Most folks just yank them out or weedwhack them by the dozens. Now there is an eco-friendly alternative: mindfully pot them and then give them to us!
Here are the steps:
1. 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
Unsure which specie(s) you have? See here for tree identification help. If your seedlings are smaller than 12″, please keep them in the ground for another year, if possible, before providing them to us.
2. During a colder month (late October through February) when tree seedlings are dormant, dig out each seedling wide enough and deep enough to capture all of its root mass.
3. Pot each seedling in a one-gallon or larger plastic container (such as black plastic pots typically used by nurseries, usually freely available). Please follow these potting instructions carefully. Due to volunteer staffing/time constraints, we will not be able to re-pot your tree if it is poorly potted — it will be discarded.
4. Contact us to arrange a convenient delivery location and time for you to bring the potted seedling(s) to us.
We’ll use the donated seedlings to supplement what we purchase each year for our planting projects. Some may also be used for fundraising or given to homeowners in neighborhoods with less tree canopy, thus improving neighborhood “tree equity” and environmental/social justice within Bellingham.

*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


Volunteer Opportunities

Want to volunteer in a future WMTP tree planting work party? Meet other tree-lovers, enjoy fresh air, have fun, and contribute to a an important cause. Please join our work party contact list!

Related Links/Resources

Tree Identification Guide
Seedling Potting Instructions

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Whatcom Million Trees Project

Bellingham, WA, USA
(360) 319-1370

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