Reforesting Northern Michigan for a Sustainable Future
At Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA), we have been committed to restoring and preserving the natural wonders of northern Michigan for over 50 years. As we reflect on our journey, we are now more determined than ever to ensure that our efforts endure for generations to come. That’s why, in 2019, we launched Wild Roots – a reforestation program designed to follow Nature’s lead in rebuilding our ecosystems and combating climate change.
2019-2023: A Successful Pilot Program
The success of Wild Roots exceeded all expectations. In just four years, we achieved remarkable milestones planting over 112,500 native trees and shrubs across northwest Michigan. With over 20 counties served, 250+ landowners involved, and 200+ passionate volunteers engaged, our program quickly garnered widespread support. These efforts not only help create a thriving natural habitat for local wildlife but also play a vital role in reducing stormwater runoff and filtering pollutants from waterways.
2023-Current: Making It Permanent
After an in-depth internal and external evaluation, CRA decided to make Wild Roots a permanent program. Our commitment to expanding upon the program’s success has never been stronger. We recognize the transformative impact of Wild Roots and the potential it holds to create lasting environmental change.
Four Tracks for Lasting Impact
Wild Roots focuses its reforestation efforts through four core tracks:
Permanent Protected Recreational Land
Collaborating with numerous partners and volunteers, we execute planting projects on permanently protected recreational land. This approach reduces habitat fragmentation and revitalizes ecosystems impacted by development, pests, and disease.
Encouraging private and public landowners to join the cause, we offer a cost-share program that provides native plants and tree tubes at a greatly reduced rate. This initiative empowers property owners to actively contribute to environmental stewardship.
By planting young trees and shrubs along riverbanks, Wild Roots supports CRA’s stream rehabilitation sites. These plantings stabilize banks, restore riparian habitat, and create future fish cover, contributing to healthier waterways.
Each spring, CRA partners with tribal governments, conservation districts, and/or other local organizations to host volunteer tree plantings.
Wild Roots Updates
Wild Roots Partners & Funders
Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Consumers Energy Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, ITC , National Forest Foundation, United States Forest Service – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Ingraham Foundation, Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Habitat Grants Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Sustain Our Great Lakes, Pour For More, United States Forest Service – Landscape Scale Restoration Program, DTE Energy Foundation
SEEDS, Antrim Conservation District, Kalkaska Conservation District, Grand Traverse Conservation District, Leelanau Conservation District, Benzie Conservation District, Manistee Conservation District, Mason-Lake Conservation District, Missaukee Conservation District, Huron Manistee National Forest, Ruffed Grouse Society, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Charter Township of Garfield, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, City of Traverse City, Little Traverse Conservancy, Leelanau Conservancy, Green Elk Rapids, Traverse Heights Elementary, NORTE, Baldwin School District, Dave Edel, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Northern Michigan Master Gardeners Association, Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Forests to Mi Faucet Project