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A group of artists and musicians are planting giant sequoia trees in Muskegon County

The collective has planted an estimated 500 sequoia trees so far. A fundraiser dubbed "Shiba Fest" is happening Sept. 1-2 in Muskegon to support the cause.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A group of artists and musicians in West Michigan are working together to preserve ancient giant sequoia trees.

Starting Friday, they're hosting a music festival to help raise money for the effort.

The founder of the Shiba Sequoia Forest is on a mission to plant as many giant sequoia trees as possible across Muskegon County. He needs your help to do just that with the music festival dubbed "Shiba Fest."

It all started in 2021.

Andrew Prater took a trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California to see the trees. That same year, massive wildfires burned down thousands of trees.

Prater connected with the Michigan non-profit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, which has been working to preserve the genetics of the ancient trees through cloning.

"Giant sequoia trees are one of the best for sequestering carbon. And if each one of us were to plant one giant sequoia tree, we can offset our carbon footprint for our entire lives. And so I want to encourage everybody to take initiative and plant one of these giant sequoia trees," Prater said.

Giant sequoia trees can grow for thousands of years with a 30-foot diameter and up to 300 feet tall.

Prater says as a collective they have planted about 500 of these clones throughout Muskegon County. He says not only do they survive in our environment, but they thrive.

"It's very obviously novel for its worthwhile effort. It's fantastic, you know, to envision, you know, read repopulating the sequoia trees, obviously, and then to be a part of that, knowing that the fruits of our labor won't be really, you know, realized by us, but by the people that come after us. That's a fantastic vision," said Gabe Schillman, a local musician.

At Shiba Fest there will be family-friendly activities including music from more than 20 musicians. The first 100 guests will get a gift bag with a tree sapling in it. 

Shiba Fest is Friday, Sept. 1 and Saturday, Sept. 2 from noon to 8 p.m. at 2119 Lemuel Street in Muskegon.

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