In 1996, David & Jared Milarch, a father and son team from a small town in Michigan, co-founded the Champion Tree Project. The mission of this organization was to preserve, propagate, and protect a living legacy of Champion Trees. It all began with a vision that David Milarch had that could change the Earth for the better. The concept was simple; protect the “Old Forest Giants” that we had left since at that time in the U.S. 98% of all old growth forests had been cut down. The Champion Tree Project set out to preserve their genetics and propagate the trees en masse to be planted globally and be allowed to cross pollinate with the rest of Earth’s struggling forests. The organization partnered with some of the largest shade tree production companies in the U.S. to try to produce the trees. The nurseries were generous in their efforts to try to produce the trees, but numbers of actual trees produced remained low. The organization’s first Executive Director, Terry Mock, ran the organization along with the Milarch’s until 2004. Terry is now the Executive Director of SLDI, an Oregon-based sustainable land ,development organization. Mock and the Milarch’s formulated and participated in hundreds of tree plantings and gained international acclaim and funding from organizations like the National Tree Trust. Highlighted plantings included a 9/11 Memorial Tree Planting in New York City, a memorial planting at the Pentagon, and many other “Archival Living Libraries” nationwide. In 2004, the organization began to struggle as sponsorships and grant money dwindled. The Milarch’s wondered if their dreams of re-planting the “Old Forest Giants” had faded.
In 2008, David Milarch had a chance meeting with a person who truly wanted to forward the Milarchs’ efforts, an angel of sorts. Leslie Lee and the Milarchs soon formed Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. The concept was the same, the mission was refined, and the funding had returned. Archangel ‘Re-Championed’ the big tree project the Milarchs had started a decade earlier. Tree collection ramped back up, research and production were brought in house and new production facilities were built. By 2010, the organization had 15 employees and a book was being written about David Milarch and his life’s work. Unfortunately, the company was failing to find a steady source of funding and by 2011, the new organization began to wane just as its predecessor had done. David Milarch was feeling exhausted. He, along with his two sons and 10 other employees, no longer officially worked for Archangel. At 63 years old, he again was faced with a monumental challenge.
In 2012, Jared Milarch, agreed to take over as Executive Director and Chairman of the Board for Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. A new board was also formed and the company is now being guided by the Milarchs and an all-star cast of internationally experienced individuals with diverse backgrounds.