ECO-Tours thanks all those who have helped us through their labor, their donations and their time. As far as not-for-profit groups are concerned, we are still in our infancy. We first started planting trees as a group of friends who shared a deep love for the environment. We enjoyed the work parties that allowed us to plant thousands of trees over the course of our first dozen years or so. Back then, we were guerrilla landscapers but the term had not yet been coined. We planted several hundred trees in national forest lands that had been deforested by loggers. We adopted a city park that was slated to become a "conservancy area", we planted in County Parks, City Parks and on private land as long as the property owners agreed to let us.
Just over six years ago, we began the process of formalizing our efforts. We dipped deep into our own pockets to come up with the five hundred dollars or so that a lawyer wanted to draw up our papers of incorporation. Registration with the state gave us some respect when dealing with land managers and official types. It still took about five years to get a measure of respect from City officials and we now have a verbal agreement that allows us to plant on nearly 100 acres of city-owned property, if we also help them with invasive species removal.
To save money we have been planting a lot more tree seeds and fewer seedlings and potted trees, but those are coming back with the economy and donations. In the time since we have incorporated we have been able to plant many times more trees than when we were operating on virtually no budget. Instead of planting 1,000 trees or less each year, we have increased to tens of thousands. If you include the tree seeds, we have planted over two million! I know that it will make a difference as people learn how to go about doing this in their own parts of the world, but even now, we are planning to add a second hub of activity along the shores of Lake Superior! All of our activity to date has been focused on the Lake Michigan Watershed, mostly in Northeast Wisconsin.
Back in college, our founder learned from Dr. Nair of UWGB (University of Wisconsin Green Bay) and the United Nations Forestry Department that whenever environmental protection programs are implemented, they have the best chance of protecting water quality when they take place at the highest points within the watershed. Conversely, the worst damage to the environment occurs in these areas as well. What we teach our guests, ecotourists and landowners is that the watershed that we spend most of our time in is our house. Look up, wherever you are and if there are no trees to intercept the rain that falls, or if your home is capped or surrounded with impermeable surfaces, these make up the most important watershed in your environment. Anything that can be done to intercept the water, slow it's progress to the nearest stream, allow it to cool before it runs away, or create places for it to percolate into the Earth. That is the most profound ecological improvement that you can achieve.
For too long humans have been at war with nature, trying to manage the massive discharges of runoff wherever they have compacted the soils. what is needed at this point in time is less impermeable surface and better management of green space that will allow water to infiltrate and stabilize the climate. The trees that we have planted here in Northeast Wisconsin improve the environment over more than 250 acres (100hectares). It has taken many years, but all of our time, talent and labor has been provided by volunteers or guests. We too often dig into our own pockets for the money to make this miracle happen and that is why I ask for donations to help us continue this important work.
If you would like to find out more about how to start these efforts where you live, contact me through facebook, write ECO-tours at email@example.com or use snail mail to our office at 1445 Porlier street Green Bay, Wisconsin.
If you are planning a trip to our area, let us know if we can plan a trip for you. We love to share what we have learned about Permaculture, ecology and sustainability. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will have a second outpost near Lake Superior!
For the Earth and speaking for the trees, Tony C. Saladino