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Member Donations Plant Trees at Pike National Forest

It took an act of courage for Theodore Roosevelt to set aside land from the public domain for what became our National Forests. He was opposed by powerful special-interest groups and vilified by western settlers. But thanks to Roosevelt’s vision—and the leadership of Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service—a legacy was created. Today, these public lands are treasures used for recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, sources of municipal drinking water, and sustainable forest products. Now it is our turn to show courage and determination in restoring those parts of our national heritage that have been devastated by wildfires in recent years.

This is what the Arbor Day Foundation’s ‘Replanting our Nation’s Forests’ campaign is all about. For example, thanks to our members and corporate partners, 147,000 ponderosa pines and Douglasfirs were planted this spring on the Pike-San Isabel National Forests to help re-green the land in the wake of the 138,000-acre Hayman Wildfire. It is the ninth year that member donations have made this possible.

Our partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation helps keep the planting program afloat, says Chris Kuennen, the forester in charge of overseeing contracts given to small businesses to actually do the planting. Our budgets have been tight the last few years, and help provided by the Foundation has been very important.

Restoring the forests in the shadow of Pikes Peak is especially important for holding the soil in place and keeping Denver’s water supply pure and plentiful. This national forest is also home to more than half of Colorado’s famous 14,000-foot peaks. Its spectacular scenery and varied ecosystems attract so many visitors that it ranks third in the nation for recreational use.

Throughout the United States, Arbor Day Foundation members are carrying on the important tradition of natural resource stewardship. We enjoy the legacy of national forests thanks to the pioneering vision of conservationists a century ago, but the care and protection of this land now rests with us. The need is great. Every year, it’s a race against time to plant new trees where fires have destroyed our forests before fire-prone brush takes over. Our nation will be stronger and the future brighter because of members and partners that are helping to replant our national forests.

Read more great stories of forest replanting.