SIDNEY — Although he says he is no Johnny Appleseed, Brent Devitt, Beavercreek environmentalist, adventurer and Trecycle organizer, is creating his own legacy of planting trees in an effort to help to replace some of the ash trees killed by Emerald Ash Borer insects in Ohio.
“My idea of adventure is that adventure begins out your front door. … There is a lot to be explored and enjoyed in your own backyard or in your own neighborhood, and not far away,” Devitt said of the Trecycle fundraiser idea.
Trecycle 2017 is a 340-mile cycling adventure/fundraiser through southwest Ohio, from Indian Lake to Cincinnati, on April 21-24. The 2017 goal is to raise awareness and plant native trees in Sidney, Troy, Middletown and Hamilton. Devitt plans to travel 70 to 80 miles of the (mostly) solo ride per day on his recumbent tricycle to raise the funds.
His love of riding is apparent in that he bikes most places, including back and forth to work daily. It is an interest shared with his wife Michelle, and at least one of their four children. They also have participated in the annual week-long biking and camping Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) held each June.
Trecycle was inspired after losing three large ash trees in Devitt’s front yard, from his love of riding, combined with his environmental background, the concept seemed like a natural fit. Devitt was an environmental educator and principal for over 30 years before changing professions three years ago to become the executive director of Bergamo (retreat) Center in Dayton.
But Devitt said the motivation to create Trecycle truly came after attending an adventure summit in 2014 when he met English adventurer David Cornthwaite, who aspires to complete over 20 different human powered adventures of over 1,000 miles. Cornthwaite encouraged Devitt to make a plan/adventure happen in his own community. And given the need to replace trees after the loss of numerous ash trees in Ohio, Devitt thought he would be able to gain support for the endeavor.
This will be the third year for the fundraiser. Trecycle began in 2015, with the goal of cycling and planting seven trees a day for seven days along the 333 mile Ohio to Erie trail. It resulted in the planting of 56 trees in seven different parks. Each year Devitt changes his path and tree planting locations. In 2016, 234 trees and 22 shrubs were planted along 250 miles of the Little Miami bike trail from $1,066 raised. Devitt hopes for it to grow in coming years and to continue as an annual fundraiser.
The cost of the trees vary based upon the age of the tree. Devitt said mature trees have greater chance of survival, but are also more costly.
As a result of Trecycle, five 6- to 8-foot bur oak trees were planted in Sidney’s Roadside Park on South Main Avenue on Tuesday morning. A combination of 40 swamp white oak, chinapin oak and additional bur oak trees will be planted in Troy, Middletown and Hamilton throughout the week.
“It’s pretty cool,” Devitt said when delivering the trees on Monday to Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier. “I didn’t have much to do with the growing of the trees, but just getting them up here…”
Gaier, Certified Arborist/Public Works Administrative Assistant Joice Reier and Sidney Council member Steve Wagner, who were also present when the tree were delivered, expressed their gratitude and excitement for the trees to be given to Sidney.
The 2017 fundraiser aims to raise at least $1,000 to purchase native trees to Ohio. As of press time, $736 was donated. In addition however, donor and Devitt’s friend Chuck Berry has pledging to match donations up to $1,000. Berry will also join Devitt along part of his trek.
Trecycle’s fundraiser page will continue to accept donations up until April 21, when the adventure is set begin. There are various options available to donate on the Trecycle website at www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/trecycle-2017.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.