Lakeview students plant 5,000 trees on school-owned property

By Meghan Nelson • Last Updated 7:10 pm on Thursday, May 04, 2017

Lakeview High School students work together to plant trees along the perimeter of the tree-planting site. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

ALTONA — Harley Kahl might not have gotten the warm and sunny day he was hoping for Tuesday, but he still was able to oversee more than 2,000 red pines being planted by his Lakeview High School classmates.

“It was nice to see this happen,” the 17-year-old said. “I’m glad it’s finally happening.”

The tree-planting field trip was part of Kahl’s efforts to improve 80 acres of school-owned property in Altona. He wrote and received a Wheels-to-Woods grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to bring more students up to the property.

Over the course of two days, students worked together with the goal of planting 5,000 red pines. The trip allowed students the opportunity to leave the classroom and improve their school property. They also had the opportunity to interact with Doyle Forest Products, a logging company based in Paris, Mich., the Montcalm and Mecosta conservation districts and the DNR.

Lakeview High School students gather around Montcalm Conservation District Forester Nick Sanchez to watch his tree planting demonstration. Students then grabbed a bundle of trees, a bucket and a measuring stick and planted trees on their own. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

“There haven’t been trees planted here since the ‘80s,” said Joe Doyle, owner of Doyle Forest Products. “The managed cut I didprovided an area to plant the new trees.”

When students arrived at the property, they hiked through the woods to a planting location Doyle and Montcalm Conservation District Forester Nick Sanchez had set up.

Last fall, Doyle had completed a managed cut to keep the forest healthy. Sanchez showed students how to dig the hole for the tree using a dibble bar, place the tree roots down and fill the hole back in so there were no air gaps.

“With a live tree it’s important not to expose the roots to the air too long,” Sanchez told students while he demonstrated how to plant the trees. “You don’t want to keep these roots out in the air because it’ll harm the tree.”

Students grabbed a bucket of water, a bundle of 50 red pines and an approximately 8-foot stick and planted trees in rows, trying to keep them in a straight line and spread out a stick’s length apart.

After a few hours, students were able to get out of the rain and go back to school before the second group of students from Todd Barton’s science classes and Cynthia Fettig’s special education.

“Mr. (Andrew) Eichelberger’s industrial arts classes were represented along with my leadership class, including Harley Kahl and Desiree Green, who were the two who guided the process with their semester projects in leadership,” recalled Lakeview leadership teacher Dan Willison. “Harley started the process first semester, and Desiree picked it up and helped finish it during second semester.”

“I thought it went very well after a few early missteps and we ended up planting approximately 2,300 trees on Tuesday,” he added.

Dan Willison,leadership  teacher at Lakeview High School, talks with senior Harley Kahl, who helped organize the trip as part of the leadership class. Kahl wrote and received a DNR Wheels-to-Woods grant to fund bringing students to the school’s 80-acres in Altona.

On Wednesday, more students worked to plant the remainder of the trees.

Kahl hopes an annual field trip begins even after he graduates from high school in a few weeks.

“I don’t think they’ll be planting trees next year, but I’m hoping they can do something different each year,” Kahl said. “There’s a swamp over there, a creek over there and I’ve seen lots of animals. They could do a lot of different things.”

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