Students and Staff From S. Christa McAuliffe ES Plant Trees to Commemorate Maryland’s Five Million Trees Initiative

Courtesy of MCPS

Students and staff from S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Germantown joined the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection on Nov. 30 to plant trees and commemorate Maryland’s Five Million Trees Initiative

Per the State of Maryland: The 5 Million Trees Initiative was mandated by legislation, the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021. Part of this legislation included a historic directive to plant 5 million native trees on public and private land by 2031. These trees are in addition to standard state planting levels-so with more than six million people living in Maryland, at least one tree will be planted for each resident by 2031.

Getting Trees in the Ground: One of the first questions the Maryland Department of Natural Resources considered was how to prepare the forestry industry to provide that many trees. Time is needed for trees to grow from seed to the desired planting size, which can vary. Large-scale plantings use tree seedlings, about 1.5 years old, with about 400 seedlings planted per acre. Smaller plantings usually use containerized trees, which are grown for an additional 1-3 years or longer before planting. In order to meet the 5 Million Trees goal, an additional half-million seedlings need to reach the desired planting size each year.

The Maryland Forest Service quickly put a tree-growing plan into action in response to the Initiative. The department’s John S. Ayton State Tree Nursery, which produces tree and shrub seedlings for plantings across Maryland and Delaware, received special permission to purchase extra seeds and begin growing out the seedlings needed for the first few years of the Initiative.

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