SOUTH STORMONT — A couple who planted thousands of trees on their farm under the 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP) say they welcome the continuation of the popular afforestation initiative.
Ray and Marlene Beauregard had more than 7,000 trees professionally planted on their 63-acre farm in Stormont Township through the program.
“The Tamarack are flourishing,” Ray Beauregard said, noting that this species of tree grows very well in the wet areas of the couple’s farm.
The Ford government chopped the large-scale tree-planting program in April of this year, but the Trudeau government revived it by uploading costs to the federal level. More than 5,000 landowners have planted trees through the program since 2008.
Forests Ontario is now taking applications through its website at www.forestsontario.ca/50MTP. All told, the organization has planted more than 900,000 trees in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry through the 50 MTP.
“The 50 MTP is better and more accessible than ever,” said Rob Keen, CEO of non-profit charity, Forests Ontario. “The new, expanded criteria opens the program to more land and property owners, meaning more trees in the ground. It’s a win-win for landowners, who save on tree planting costs, and for the environment.
Under the new criteria, property owners with room to plant a minimum of 500 trees can apply. The revised program creates more opportunity for urban and suburban tree planting.
Forests Ontario counts 29 million trees through the 50 MTP — a job that involved 80 partners like conservation authorities, stewardship groups and First Nations.
Planting trees on a farm can also offer tax benefits for property owners. The Beauregards recently obtained a Managed Forest Plan, dropping their property taxes by 75 per cent on 40 acres of their land.
One hundred thousand people signed a petition in support of the 50 MTP after its cancellation by the province earlier this year. In addition to the federal government’s $15-million commitment over the next four years, program funding also comes from corporate sponsors and donors.