Happy Little Trees Program

Bob Ross Happy Little Trees sign
  • People around the world are familiar with the work and personality of Bob Ross, the American painter, art instructor and television host. In the ’80s and ’90s, Ross shared his love for painting and the environment with millions of viewers on “The Joy of Painting” public television show. He was known for simple brushstrokes that brought gorgeous landscapes – full of happy little trees – to life on the canvas.

    Bob Ross and the DNR

    We shares Ross’ enthusiasm for nature! Through a partnership with Bob Ross Inc. and funding from the U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the DNR's Happy Little Trees program helps state park campgrounds recover from invasive forest pests and diseases (like emerald ash borer and oak wilt) that damage or kill trees.

    How it works

    Volunteers collect local native seeds from the areas where trees are most needed. Through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Corrections, the seeds are placed in the care of inmates in the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, where inmates learn horticultural practices and help raise new trees for replanting. The collection of local native seeds is key to growing trees specifically for replanting at state parks within the same geographical region, because trees with similar genetics – for example, height, leaf shape and size, type of flowers and function – are much more likely to thrive.

    The Happy Little Trees program supports the restoration of native Michigan ecosystems and other natural resources by growing native trees, shrubs, grasses and plant products for use in Michigan state parks, recreation areas and public boating access sites.

  • A special thank you to Chateau Grand Traverse for helping support tree transportation and purchase of supplies for the program. Approximately 50 percent of the net profits from the sale of the “CGT Wines of the Great Outdoors” is donated back to the tree-planting program.

    Questions? For more details on Happy Little Tree planting, general tree planting, and forest health in state parks, contact Heidi Frei (Natural Resource Steward and State Park Forest Health). For more details on the Happy Little Trees partnership, the Happy Little 5k, and sponsorship opportunities, contact Michelle Coss (Fund Development Coordinator).