Canopy Director & Eco-Storyteller.
To make this happen, we worked with a fantastic on-the-ground project partner, the Sugar Pine Foundation, who worked with 450 community volunteers and a 6 person forestry crew to get these trees planted with love and care.
Here's the backstory to the region:
The Sierra Nevada Mountains stretch along the eastern border of California in between the Central Valley in California and the Great Basin in Nevada. The forests in the Sierra provide clean water to California farmers in the Central Valley and the populous cities of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Similar to other Western US ecosystems the Sierra forest is dependent on fire. Fire suppression over the past century has left the forests overgrown and prone to insects and disease. The warming climate has led to more frequent droughts, bigger wildfires and increased bark beetle population. Between 2014 and 2016, 83 million trees died in the Sierra Nevada from overgrown forests, bark beetles, and drought.
While the US Forest Service budget is being consumed by fighting fires, there are few resources left for treating forests to survive fire and reforestation after the fires. The Forest service largely relies on private contractors and non-profit partners for fire prevention and reforestation.
Our local partner:
The Sugar Pine Foundation is a non-profit organization created in 2004. Its mission is to restore sugar pines and other native white pines that are being plagued by a non-native invasive fungus called white pine blister rust. The Sugar Pine Foundation partners with the US Forest Service to identify seed trees naturally resistant to the pathogen and plant their progeny in fire scars and other areas where the forest has been thinned. They have collected cones at tested over 500 sugar pines and western white pines for blister rust resistance testing. Once the seed trees are identified, they climb them and collect the seed when it ripens in the fall - yes, literally climging trees to collect seeds is how it's done!
Their work is focused in the Lake Tahoe area. They have planted over 100,000 trees with the help of over 5,000 volunteers in the past 10 years. The Sugar Pine Foundation also organizes field trips for local school kids to learn how to identify, measure and plant trees. Its funding comes mainly from grants and planting sponsorships from private foundations, including One Tree Planted!