CRA staff planted extra seedlings from the distribution at stream restoration sites, as pictured here where Skinner Road meets the North Branch of the Platte River.

After owning and operating his business for more than 30 years, Mark Contrucci was preparing for retirement when he came across an article about Wild Roots. With several hundred native tree species left in his inventory, he felt inspired.

Contrucci is a Master Gardener, owner of Mark C’s Tree Nursery and Landscape in Boyne City, and a true river ally. In 2016, Friends of the Boyne River awarded him and his wife, Chitra, with the “Founders Award” for their outstanding volunteerism, including Mark’s landscaping work on the Boyne River’s streambanks.

Last fall, Mark contacted CRA and offered his remaining plants at a price we couldn’t refuse. His tree stand comprised of over 400 native plants, with species including Hackberry, River Birch, Swamp White Oak, Ironwood, and more.

Typically, CRA sources bare-root seedlings for our restoration sites because it’s economical to do so – we can plant more trees with the same amount of funds. However, Mark’s potted trees – at heights between 2-8’ – had a greater chance at survival and gave us the opportunity to instantly impact the landscape.

In early June, Chris Pierce and other CRA staff members planted Marks’ trees along the Maple River at the restoration site of the Lake Kathleen Dam Removal. The site, which had formerly been under Lake Kathleen’s waters, looked mostly barren prior to the plantings. The transformation is incredible – the new trees will help to strengthen the Maple River’s streambanks, offer habitat to local wildlife, filter pollutants from entering the stream, and keep the Maple River’s waters cool.

Now retired, Mr. Contrucci, plans to spend his time traveling and was pleased to have made the connection. He said, “I’m happy that my babies were able to find a good home and help to restore the river.”

Thank you, Mark, for all of your help and best wishes for a happy retirement!