YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — At a farm in York around midday last Sunday, volunteers patted the soil down around the 2,500th tree planted as part of the initiative The Big Do, surpassing the halfway point of the project goal to plant 5,000 trees in and around Lancaster County.
The Big Do is an initiative created by three students at the Stone Independent School in Lancaster. Maxwell Davis, Spencer Browne and Amelia Stagg are leading their community in the planting of thousands of trees, aiming to combat environmental problems in Central Pennsylvania.
Trees are known for their ability to pull carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas — out of the atmosphere, but they can also help protect waterways. abc27 media partner LNP/LancasterOnline reports that more than half of Lancaster County’s streams are impaired, or polluted. Most of the county’s streams flow into the Susquehanna River and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay.
“It’s a huge issue, and with our 5,000 trees, we’re really able to create a significant dent in that problem and help to clean up the streams here,” Davis, a senior at Stone Independent and the festival director for The Big Do said.
Most of the planting sites for The Big Do, such as the one volunteers visited on Sunday, abut waterways. The trees help prevent erosion along the waterways, and they help prevent sediments and other pollutants from getting into the streams by filtering runoff and absorbing excess nutrients.
Stagg, a Stone Independent senior and The Big Do’s chief impact coordinator, says that educating the community about the positive impacts of trees has been rewarding.
“To be able to share that with our community at school, with the community in Lancaster, to get other students from other schools involved, that’s really been our main goal,” Stagg said.
The community has gotten on board with the students’ initiative, but at first, some were skeptical that the team would be able to meet their goal.
“We started off with everyone telling us that we wouldn’t be able to do it, we’d only plant 2,000 trees,” Stagg said. “And today we’re putting our 3,000th tree in the ground.”
Stagg, Davis and Browne have reached out to organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to collect tree donations; they’ve worked with local sites to establish locations to plant the trees; and they’ve organized teams of volunteers to get the trees in the ground.
“The community has been so accepting of this and so excited about it because once you tell them the impact that it’ll have, people get so passionate, and it’s been amazing to see that change in our community,” Stagg said.
After the 5,000 trees have been planted, The Big Do will put on a celebratory public concert. The concert on June 5 will feature six Lancaster County bands, and it will be held in the parking lot of Penn Cinema.
“We’re going to use the concert as a way to really celebrate environmentalism, celebrate what we’ve done by planting 5,000 trees, as well as enjoy live music,” Davis says.
Tree plantings take place on weekends until Memorial Day. Volunteers can sign up to participate in the plantings on The Big Do’s website, which is also where individuals can purchase tickets to attend the concert.
“We’re using this to create as much change as possible and really try and do something good,” Davis said. Davis and Stagg are both graduating this year and heading to college, but they hope to continue The Big Do next year, doubling their original goal and planting 10,000 additional trees.