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Restoring the Bay One Tree at a Time

Trees for Sacred Places partnership helps faith communities take environmental action

Church members planting at All Saints Lutheran Church

(January 19, 2016- Annapolis, MD) The Trees for Sacred Places Program, a partnership between the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance) and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC), is a unique program that brings restoration, community engagement and education to an often overlooked partner in environmental restoration, the faith community.

Participation in the program is available in Maryland for any property that is owned by any faith community. The program facilitates tree plantings on these properties by organizing the planting day and providing a free planting plan prepared by the Alliance, all the necessary planting tools and supplies, and of course, native trees.

Founded in 2013, Trees for Sacred Places has worked with 85 congregations and other faith-owned properties across Maryland to plant 12,149 trees with the help of over 1600 volunteers.

Alliance Staff Member Dan Brellis demonstrates the importance of proper planting technique.

“The entire process was a great experience” says partner Mary Elliott, Reverend at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Baltimore. “We did have a lot of help and it went much faster than anticipated… It was a beautiful day. I am so happy every time I pull into the parking lot and see our little sticks.”

In addition to the Alliance’s tree plantings support, IPC offers congregations a workshop which focuses on the spiritual foundation for environmental stewardship, watershed literacy and the environmental importance of trees. The spiritual teachings are drawn from the faith tradition of the participating congregation including the sacredness of water and the social justice benefits of Bay watershed restoration.

Over the next two years, the program seeks to identify 50 more congregations to plant another 3,000 trees. Thanks to the statewide support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, this work will continue. Any faith community that would like to participate should contact Bonnie Sorak at bonnie@interfaithchesapeake.org or call 410-609-6852. Will there be clean water for tomorrow’s children? The faith community in Maryland is demonstrating a clear commitment to answer that question with “YES!”

Meaningful watershed educational experiences like tree plantings teach children to think of their actions and the environment.

The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided the funding for the trees planted between 2013-2015. The state’s Stream Restoration Challenge invested $6 million in programs like Trees for Sacred Places. “Through environmental literacy projects, we can help our youth understand the critical role they can play as stewards of our lands,” stated MD Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton.
See the PDF press release for a listing of the congregations and properties we partnered with on this project: Restoring the Bay One Tree at a Time (.pdf)

Download: Restoring the Bay One Tree at a Time (.pdf)

More about the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is dedicated to educating, supporting and motivating the people and communities of faith to care for the Earth and all its inhabitants, beginning with their own home, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For more information about Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, visit: interfaithchesapeake.org

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Marissa Spratley Communications Manager, Maryland & DC Office

Marissa is the Communications Manager at the Alliance’s Headquarters. Her job includes managing communications strategies across the organization and our regional offices.

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