Holes lined the grassy fields for hundreds of feet on either side of the group. They huddled around one hole, standing close to get a look at the demonstration and brace themselves from the Sunday afternoon wind.
John Smucker led the demonstration, rolling a potted tree along the ground more easily to separate the ball of dirt and roots from the plastic pot. He placed the tree, filled in the hole and stood up.
With that, the group of around 60 people got to work. In just over 30 minutes, they had planted 500 trees.
Multi-faith Alliance of Climate Stewards, in partnership with Stream-Link Education, is planting 1,000 in two weeks along Glade Creek in Walkersville. Around 10 congregations were involved with the planting of hardwood trees on Sunday.
The missions of MACS and Stream-Link aligned well and allowed for the event to happen, said Barb Trader, MACS board member.
The new trees will replace those lost to deforestation and prevent erosion in the areas near the creek, creating a riparian buffer between the water and lands used for agriculture or development. Trees help clean water and prevent pollution, Trader said.
“We really need to keep our waters as clean as possible to protect our drinking water but also keep the Chesapeake Bay clean,” she said.
Glade Creek feeds into the Monocacy River, where Frederick gets some of its drinking water. The river then runs to the Chesapeake Bay. Participants in the planting learned about the flow of local waters, as well as how to plant trees.
The creek area where volunteers worked Sunday used to be a trout habitat, said Smucker, Stream-Link Education executive director. The new trees will be able to withstand possible flooding and reverse some of the damage that has forced trout away, he said.
“It’s a cool opportunity to create riparian zones in the area and bring trout back,” Smucker said.
In the 13 years between 2001 and 2014, Frederick County lost an average of 420 acres of forest cover a year, according to a draft of the Livable Frederick Master Plan.
Planting 1,000 trees in two weeks is an ambitious goal but will make an immediate and long-term impact, said Kathleen Rall, a MACS member who helped organize the event.
“We just picked a large number because we wanted to really make a difference,” she said.
Planning began in early February but getting people interested in working on their local environment was easy, Rall said.