Earth Angel

David Milarch at the base of a Giant Redwood

David Milarch at the base of a Giant Redwood

Before the age of eight, I spent a lot of time up a tree in our yard. I wanted to live there. I’d drag pillows and blankets up and would only reluctantly climb down for dinner and bed with my hair full of sap. I hadn’t recalled this memory for some time until I walked into the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive office in Copemish, Michigan for my meeting with David Milarch. Normally, I would have my questions ready, phone poised to record – but this time, I didn’t even reach into my bag for phone or the few questions that I had managed to jot down. I immediately sensed that this experience would be different. Don’t get me wrong – an interview, conversation….communion did happen. Five hours later, David was carefully giving me directions to the Traverse City airport, warning me to watch my driving – a clue that he intuited my tendency to speed as well as an acknowledgement that all that we had discussed would leave me a little “buzzed”. All this from a tree guy!

David Milarch with 1000 year old cloned Redwoods

David Milarch with 1000 year old cloned Redwoods

David Milarch is the inspiration and co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive – I can’t help but notice all the “archs” in that title. The name Milarch itself contains an arch – Greek for ruler. And Archangels are believed to rule over the universe’s daily operation while also delivering messages from God to human beings. David’s mission is as much spiritual as it is practical. He can speak the Ph.D. talk with the best of them – although he doesn’t have one – but is just as comfortable communing with Native American shamans. He understands why trees were worshiped pre-Christianity and by Native American and Eastern philosophies of our time. “Trees are the oldest living beings of this planet” in his words.

David & Jake Milarch with Redwoods

David & Jake Milarch with Redwoods

The Son of a hard-driving tree farmer, David was worked like a dog as a kid. Most of us in the same – what can only be described as abusive – situation would have taken up accounting somewhere far away from northern Michigan. David did flee just as soon as he could, but his divining rod simply led him to the Cathedral of the Redwood forests of northern California. He eventually circled back and took over the family business and started a family of his own. A near death experience solidified what was probably David’s contract with the universe all along. While on the other side, he was given his marching orders to return and save the trees. Not just any trees mind you – but the largest, most resilient “Champion” trees – the oldest Sequoias, Redwoods, Black Willows, Bristlecone Pines and Yews. The point being to clone the ancient trees with the strongest, most effective genetics for helping the planet. The “Champion” trees that had withstood all that Mother Nature and Man could throw at them, and still survive. The Milarch mantra is: Restoration.

John Muir Sequoia Clones

John Muir Sequoia Clones

In the early 1880s, after one of his trips to Yosemite, John Muir returned to his Martinez, CA home (now the John Muir National Historic Site) with a Sequoia. The Park turned to Archangel Ancient Tree archive to clone Muir’s beloved dying tree in order to save the genetics for prosterity. Out of 400 cuttings, the Milarchs produced three successful clones. As David always says: the impossible just takes a little longer.

We have decimated 98% of our old growth forests on this continent. Europe isn’t doing much better. David has collaborated with the most renowned international scientists, botanists, and biologists to propagate the “great” trees of the remaining two percent of the plundered lost groves before they are completely disappear.

David Milarch speaks at TEDx, San Jose, CA, 2012

David Milarch speaks at TEDx, San Jose, CA, 2012

What is Propagation?

The method of producing genetically identical plants from a single parent plant. The resulting plant is a clone, meaning it has 100% of the same DNA as the plant from which it was propagated, yielding the exact genetic traits of the parent tree. Whereas seed collection may only yield 50% of the genes, since it could have been pollinated by another tree.

Archangel Wharehouse Crop

Archangel Wharehouse Crop

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive warehouse hosts thousands of cuttings, tissue samples and cloned saplings of the most valuable trees that exist. “Valuable” should in no way be confused with expensive ornamentals that cost a pretty penny at your local nursery. The Archangel warehouse is primarily occupied, at the moment, by cloned Sequoias and Redwoods – the largest natural carbon and water sequesterers alive. They are being propagated for reforestation, pure and simple. Not for profit.

Micropropagation Lab Pioneered by AATA

Micropropagation Lab Pioneered by AATA

Working along side a small team, which includes his two sons, Jared and Jake, the Milarchs intend for these trees to land in the most hospitable regions to insure their survival. Because of the dramatic climate change this earth is experiencing, restoration might be in an area some distance from the tree’s actual origin. For instance, Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has plans to send 300 cloned Redwoods to the Eden Project in Cromwall, England this fall. RedwoodBeyond their function as the filter and lungs of this planet, David believes that trees are “solar collectors” photosynthesizing the energy from the stars just as they do from the sun. He also believes that “energies inside the earth are transmuted and transmitted into the cosmos by the trees, so the trees are like antennas, senders and receivers of earth energies and stellar energies.” As far fetched as this theory may seem, there are many recent scientists and scholars that are coming to the same conclusions on the galactic influence of trees and vice versa. As recently as a few years ago, University of Edinburgh researchers found that galactic cosmic rays were the biggest predictor of ring growth. Not precipitation. Not temperature.

Jake Milarch uses the term “permaculture” as the descriptive umbrella under which the Milarch’s work could be characterized.

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted thoughtful observation rather than thoughtless labor; and looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.” – Bill Mollison (1978)

Scientists were doubtful that 1000 to 3000 year old trees could be cloned at all until David and his team proved them wrong. Will the genetics of these trees show to be as resilient as we hope? No one knows yet. But without restoring them they can’t be “thoughtfully observed” by future generations to come.

David Milarch donates AATA trees to Interlochen Environmental Studies program

David Milarch donates AATA trees to Interlochen Environmental Studies program – Earth Day 2014

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive partners with schools and educational outreach programs to insure that the youngest among us are advocates for, and hopefully participants in, rebuilding our environment. Lone Tree2 David Milarch is relying on “light workers”, both earthbound and otherwise, to guide the message and mission forward.

From where I stand, it looks like we’ve got an Angel in our midst.

About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

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  1. Trees to the Rescue! - Jenny Green Jeans | August 14, 2014
  1.' Terry Mock says:

    Very good summary article Jennifer. As a co-founder of Champion Tree Project International and Sustainable Land Development Initiative, I support the efforts of David Milarch and Archangel Ancient Tree Archive:

    Biodiversity is the Living Foundation for Sustainable Development

  2. Wonderfully written! You did a beautiful job telling our story.

  3.' Laura says:

    Great article about an amazing man and project! And what a scary stat: “We have decimated 98% of our old growth forests on this continent.”

    I’m glad that David Milarch has this positive philosophy: “The impossible just takes a little longer.” Our world needs more people taking on the impossible like him.

  4.' J says:

    I think I am crazy about this man. Being a city girl, this information was surprising, enlightening and inspiring. Brava Jen and Mr. Milarch

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