November 13, 2018 3 min read

4,390 Trees Planted in California - Lake Tahoe Area Forest Fire Recovery

We’re happy to share that despite the severe wildfires in some parts of California, other areas – including the sites of former forest fires – are actually in recovery. The planting season in California began in October 2018 and usually lasts through March, extending as far as June in the mountainous areas. And as we head back to the state to continue our ongoing partnerships for forest fire restoration, some projects are already wrapping up.  

In today’s update, we’ll share the details for 4,390 trees planted in the Lake Tahoe area of California, in partnership with the Sugar Pine Foundation (SPF). This particular effort is dedicated to restoring sugar pines and other white pines in the Lake Tahoe region. By involving volunteers in hands-on forest stewardship, SPF educates local communities about the importance of conserving native species and people’s role in enhancing forest health.

Planting timelines: October 10th – November 7th, 2018

Tree species: Sugar Pine and Jeffrey Pine

Area of land reforested: 75 acres

Number of staff: 10

Number of volunteers: 650 (wow!)

The primary objectives of this project were forest fire restoration, habitat/biodiversity expansion, and restoring the sugar pine tree population by planting seedlings progeny of white pine blister rust resistant seed trees.

Let us explain that last part in case it’s a little too tree-nerdy.

“White pine blister rust” is a non-native invasive pathogen decimating sugar pines and other white pines. About 90-95% of sugar pines are susceptible to the rust, so lots of trees have already been lost in the area due to this blight. This is a great example of a case where human intervention is a positive benefit. By reforesting with resistant trees, we help to bring back healthy, disease-resistant, native tree populations that are ideal for the ecology of the local environment, without which a cascade of further ecological damage could ensue.

Growing and planting a mix of native trees also helps to reforest local fire scars, which help tree populations become established in the landscape before invasive species, brush, weeds, and other fire-prone fuel plants begin to dominate the land. Timeliness for post-fire restoration is key, so the tree seedlings can thrive without too much competition for resources from other plants. Overall, this creates an advantage for the natural restoration of a forest.

At least 3 endangered or vulnerable wildlife species have been identified as benefiting from this particular reforestation effort, which are the Northern goshawk, Bald Eagle, American marten. In case you've never heard of the American marten, that's the first adorable little creature pictured above, which often shares a habitat with these badass birds of prey.

Overall, this project spanned many different locations on public and private lands (technically some trees were planted in Nevada since Lake Tahoe is so close to the border), and had lots of participation from local schools, boy scouts, and professional crews.

Want one more tree fact to close out this update? Sugar pines have the longest pine cones in the world and grow to be the largest pines by volume of wood!

If you've been following the headlines, then you know that California just had the deadliest wildfire on record, and has lost over 1 million acres of forest in 2018 alone. We won't comment on the causes here, but we do want to share that we are deeply committed to forest fire restoration in California for people, nature, and wildlife 🌲

We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

by Diana Chaplin

Canopy Director & Eco-Storyteller