Stewardship Council plants 500 trees at McGeachie

The Bancroft Area Stewardship Council, along with the Scouts and the North Hastings Community Integration Association planted 500 white wine seedlings at McGeachie Conservation Area on May 4. They were joined by Crowe Valley Conservation Area regulation officer Beth Lowe, Professional Registered Forester Fred Werner, and Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines coordinator Bruce Leonard, whose organization donated the money to procure the seedlings for this initiative. BASC’s chair Ian Hendry and its vice chair John O’Donnell comment on this successful event.

BASC, along with the NHCIA and the Scouts, came to McGeachie Conservation Area on May 4 at 10 a.m. to help plant 500 white pine seedlings, made possible by a $750 donation by the Rally of the Tall Pines. This planting of white pine seedlings, the provincial tree of Ontario, was to help replenish trees that were lost during the destructive derecho that hit the area last year.

Lowe thought the planting of these white pine seedlings by the BASC, NHCIA and the Scouts was awesome. “You know, John [O’Donnell, BASC vice chair] and company are out here doing this. It’s the Scouts out here doing this and these kids plant the trees and grow with these trees. And then they know that this space is here so it really gets them connected to nature,” she says.

Werner was there to show the attendees how to properly plant the white pine seedlings. “And then I go around and sort of individually coach some of them and answer their questions as they’re learning,” he says.

Werner says they’ll be planting the seedlings on the forest floor and letting them fend for themselves. “If they’re planted right, they’ll probably survive. We don’t expect everything to be a full-size tree, just because of the history of planting these. Seedlings are food for certain species and the weather takes its toll as well,” he says.

Leonard says they’ve donated every year for the past eight to 10 years and this past year, they upped their donation to $750. “The Rally [of the Tall Pines] comes up here every year and the Town [of Bancroft] and area welcomes us so much. So, something we can do in return, other than bringing business to the area. Here’s something we can do for the area,” he says.

Loretta Kaperski was there with the Scouts and said they’d been planting trees for eight years. She says that Scouts Canada does a Scoutrees-community tree planting initiative every year, which is a pledge fundraiser and they get pledges to plant trees. “In this way, we can make the world a better place than the way we found it. So, it’s a great opportunity to make a difference in the world. We started off doing Algonquin Park when they had the funding. We planted a maximum of 2,000 trees over a weekend. And then when COVID-19 happened and the funding stopped, we went in search of tree planting we could do. One year we found someone reforesting their property so we did 400 trees there, and then I was lucky to get teamed up with the BASC. Every April, they reach out and we come out to help,” she says.

Werner then called upon all the attendees to come over and he gave them all a talk on how to properly plant the white pine seedlings and the technique, so that they have the best chance of growing to maturity without being eaten or infested by disease.

O’Donnell thanked everyone for coming, and thanked Leonard for the Rally of the Tall Pines donation, which made procuring the white pine seedlings possible. He said as vice chair, he’s part of the BASC, which has a tree and shrub program every spring. “I also want to thank Beth Lowe, CVCA regulation officer, who came by to help us. I’ve worked with the BASC and the CVCA to facilitate this. After the derecho last year, the devastation it caused to that beautiful mature hardwood bush, it’s a good time to do this reforestation. At one time, this whole area was a white pine forest. So hopefully, the folks putting in the trees, when you get old like me, you’ll be able to go back and say ‘see that tree? I planted that,’” he says.

After O’Donnell’s comments, everyone took to the path into the forest to plant the 500 white pine seedlings. Richard Taylor, one of the planters, said it was going pretty quickly. “I think we’ll make short work of the 500 trees with all the people that showed up,” he says.

O’Donnell told The Bancroft Times that he was very happy with the planting on May 4. “We had all the key players take part, including the BASC, CVCA, Rally of the Tall Pines, the Scouts troop, and NHCIA. It took just over two hours to plant the 500 trees and the weather was perfect despite the forecast we had Friday. This was fun watching our planters take so much of Fred Werner’s instructions to heart. They will remember this throughout their lifetime and helping to restore the forest the windstorm changed will be something they all can be proud of. Thanks to everyone who put out such a great effort on this worthwhile project,” he says.

Hendry reiterated to The Bancroft Times that it took them a little over two hours to finish planting the 500 white pine seedlings. “This was our second year working together as a group and it really was a special time. With volunteers from the BASC, Scouts Canada and the [North Hastings] Community Integration Association all working together towards a common goal, it went quickly,” he says. “It’s always great to work together with our youth and teach them the importance of good stewardship and a shining example of how well collaborating with others works so well.”

For more information regarding each of the organizations participating in the tree planting initiative visit their websites at:;;;; and,

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times