Forest Service grant will help Belle Isle forestry

Mar 6, 2014

Detroit kids learn about the ecology on Belle Isle in 2012.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The federal government is offering some help to restore the forest on Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced the $300,000 grant from the US Forest Service Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been cutting down a lot of dead and damaged trees on Belle Isle lately, as the island makes its transition to a state park.

The grant will help carry on that effort. It will also help the DNR and community groups reforest the island.

Rebecca Salminen Witt is president of the Greening of Detroit, which will help with the restoration effort. She says it won’t just be about showing up to plant lots of trees – there’s a bigger plan in the works.

“We’re going to do our best to do a little bit of forest restoration, along with making sure that we use species that are going to hold up to the wear and tear of a public park,” Witt says.

Witt says the plan is for volunteers to plant “at least” 200 trees on and around Belle Isle, and to get started as soon as possible – which is to say, as soon as the snow is gone for good.

“You’ll see some of those trees going in in early spring, depending on how long our planting season turns out to be, and you’ll certainly see a bunch more going in in the fall as well,” Witt says.

Witt says Greening of Detroit will work with the DNR to pick “young, healthy native species” that suit the island’s native ecology.