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Socially distant neighbors helping plant sugar pine trees in Lake Tahoe | Everyday Heroes

In one day, the nonprofit handed out 5,000 baby sugar pine trees to locals who could plant them at home or while on a social distance walks.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Tahoe is looking a little greener these days thanks to volunteer tree planters who stepped up in a time of need.

Every spring, the Sugar Pine Foundation holds a number of community tree planting events. Normally, hundreds of people plant thousands of baby trees in the burn-scared areas of Lake Tahoe.

But this year, the event was canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

The Sugar Pine Tree Foundation had thousands of baby seedlings that needed to be planted or else they would die.

"So what should we do," the nonprofit's Executive Director Maria Mircheva asked friends on Facebook. "And they said, 'Give them to us.'"

In one day, the nonprofit handed out 5,000 baby sugar pine trees to locals who could plant them at home or while on a socially distanced walks.

"Peoples yards are a great place, because they will take care of them," Mircheva explained.

The survival of sugar pine trees is important. Wildfire and a non-native diseases have significantly impacted the population.

"Sugar pine used to make up 25% of the forest, but they are less than 5% now," Mircheva said.

The Sugar Pine Foundation works with the U.S. Forest Service.

Volunteers look for disease-resistant trees in the Tahoe area, then collect the pine cones and send them to Forest Service lab for gene testing. Trees with disease-resistant genes become candidates for growing seedlings.

The disease-resistant seedlings are then planted by volunteers working with the Sugar Pine Foundation in the spring and fall.

If you are interested in planting trees for the Sugar Pine Foundation, sign up on their website.

If you want to nominate an everyday hero, email John Bartell or follow him on Facebook.

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