TRAVERSE CITY -- It's time to hug the earth and plant a tree.
Today is Earth Day, when some area residents will plant trees, collect litter, recycle electronics, talk about climate change and a host of other activities.
Aaron Sahs, of Northport, has big Earth Day plans, but not until the weekend.
"We're putting a garden in and we plant trees every year about this time," he said.
This year, it will be cedar trees, Sahs said.
Earth Day gives people a chance to give back to the planet, he said.
"We should all be stewards of the Earth and give back when we can," Sahs said. "Any time you can plant a tree, it's good for future generations to use."
Planting trees is a priority for David Milarch of Copemish, co-founder of the Champion Tree Project.
"It's important to teach children to take care of Mother Earth because she takes care of us," he said.
Milarch and a fleet of volunteers and area schoolchildren will plant about 1,200 cloned trees -- the genetic copy of an ancient, champion black willow in Traverse City -- around the barns and Kids Creek at the Grand Traverse Commons, plus in other spots across Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie and Manistee counties. The species absorbs toxins to keep surface and groundwater cleaner, Milarch said.
He said more volunteers are needed. Anyone willing to pitch in may gather today at 1:30 p.m. at the barns at the Grand Traverse Commons. Volunteers should bring shovels and boots, if possible.
The effort is possible after the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians paid for the black willow to be cloned, Milarch said.
Hank Bailey, tribal inland fish and wildlife technician, delivered the cloned trees across the region Tuesday and said Earth Day activities are important.