Saving Our National Forests (And What You Can Do To Help)

Courtesy of the National Forest Foundation; Coconino NF

Did you know some 62 million acres of National Forest need long-term restorative action due to wildfire damage, insects, disease and natural disasters? The Treasured Landscapes campaign highlights restoration projects taking place across the country in 14 national forests and grasslands, including our own Coconino National Forest. Through this campaign, Treasured Landscapes will help Americans fully understand and appreciate all of the benefits provided by our forests — think clean air, water, diversity of life and outdoor recreation.

Below, a representative from the National Forest Foundation talks about the campaign, the challenges facing our forests, and what you can do to help.

How did the Treasured Landscapes campaign come to be?
Millions of acres of the National Forest System need long-term restoration, and millions of people are unaware of how national forests enrich their lives. To restore damaged forests and educate the general public about the benefits the forests provide, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) launched its Treasured Landscapes conservation campaign in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and dozens of local nonprofit partners.

What are folks not getting when it comes to the challenges facing our forests?
Nearly one-third of the 193-million-acre National Forest System is in need of restorative action due to damage from wildfire, insects, disease and natural disasters. Since millions of us depend on our national forests for clean water, fresh air, outdoor recreation opportunities, and community well-being, this restoration challenge has far-reaching implications on our daily lives.

How can the general public help save our forests?
Go to www.friendsoftheforest.org to learn more about our national forests and sign up to become a Friend of the Forest. “Friends” receive updates and communications with photos and stories about the national forests and grasslands as well as opportunities to take part in hands-on volunteer projects restoring popular forest areas. You can also “like” the National Forest Foundation on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NationalForestFoundation, or follow on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/nationalforests and on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/natlforests.

The NFF is launching a Treasured Landscapes site within the San Francisco Peaks area of the Coconino National Forest, where Arizonans can get involved by lending support, volunteering for stewardship activities, and spreading the word about this iconic Arizona landscape.

Courtesy of the National Forest Foundation; Coconino NF

What is the goal of the campaign? That is, what are you going to do to save our forests?
There are four goals for the Treasured Landscapes campaign:

1. Help Americans fully understand and appreciate all the benefits provided by the National Forest System, including clean air and water, diversity of life, and opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

2. Raise $100 million and implement stewardship projects to nurture more resilient forest ecosystems.

3. Restore landscapes damaged by fire, insects, disease and natural disasters to provide long-term benefits for people and nature.

4. Invest in the strength of communities of interest and place, and help people convert a passion for their forests and grasslands into meaningful conservation action.

Why is it important to restore forest landscapes? By interfering with Mother Nature, even though intentions are good, could we cause more damage?
Restoring, enhancing and maintaining the health of our nation’s forests will help conserve the multiple benefits these public lands provide to all of us. For example, our national forests help sequester carbon and provide clean air. About one-third of the U.S. population (or 123 million people) relies on water from the National Forest System. Also, more than 200 million people visit America’s national forests and grasslands each year, creating a positive economic impact on surrounding communities, including 223,000 jobs in rural communities. Many NFF projects are taking place in damaged areas where natural ecosystem recovery would be exceedingly slow or non-existent. For example, on the site of Colorado’s Hayman wildfire, which occurred in 2002, many streams are still eroding tremendous amounts of sediment into Denver’s water supply. Restorative action is helping to revitalize a precious resource for that state’s residents. Similarly on the areas of Arizona’s severe wildfires – like the Wallow, Rodeo-Chediski and Schultz fires – proactive seeding, planting and other activities will help ensure that the state’s forests provide the beauty, experiences and resources Arizonans depend upon.

What will happen if we let our forests be destroyed?
America’s national forests provide a broad range of values and benefits, including clean drinking water for millions of people across the United States, vital wildlife habitat to sustain biodiversity, and a variety of recreation opportunities, all of which are basic to the health and sustainability of our communities. Forests in the United States offset at least 11 percent of our nation’s annual emissions.

There’s a public service announcement created by Discovery Communications for the National Forest Foundation that does a great job of highlighting the urgency and importance of caring for America’s national forests. It features the talented children of the Public School 22 Chorus from Graniteville, Staten Island, singing “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. These young voices demonstrate the best reason for being good stewards of our public lands – ensuring they can enjoy and derive the same benefits from our National Forest System as we have.

 

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