American Forests Named Official Green Partner of 22nd Annual SAG Awards

by American Forests

By Lea Sloan, Vice President of Communications

Attendees of the SAG Awards American Forests press event.

American Forests’ President & CEO, Scott Steen, with actress Katie Lowes and Kathy Connell, executive producer of the SAG Awards.

This morning, the stars literally aligned for American Forests, thanks to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. A little more than a week before the 22nd annual presentation of the SAG Awards and live television broadcast (Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and TNT), American Forests was announced as their environmental partner for 2016, at a media conference and tree planting ceremony beside the Los Angeles River.

American Forests will be planting one tree in Angeles National Forest for every SAG Awards guest. What does Angeles National Forest have to do with the Los Angeles River, you ask?  Actually, quite a bit! The forest is the source of the river, and it’s an 800-plus square-mile watershed.

The SAG Awards’ commitment to environmental causes is noteworthy. It has been honored with the Green Seal by the Environmental Media Association for each of the last seven years, the only television special event to have achieved that stature.

The site chosen for the media conference is a pocket park in Sherman Oaks, part of the massive LA Riverworks project, a remarkable, ambitious, billion-dollar project aiming to reclaim and transform the LA River over the next 20-50 years. The tree planted this morning was a Fremont cottonwood, chosen as it is a native tree suited for a riverside environment in LA’s rare Mediterranean climate.

As the East Coast braces for a major snowstorm and the West coast dodges the fickle weather delivered by El Niño, the day dawned blessedly bright and mild.

Dozens of media members gathered to see and hear Katie Lowes, star on ABC’s hit show “Scandal” and SAG Awards’ social media ambassador; Kathy Connell, SAG Awards Executive Producer; JoBeth Williams, Chair, SAG Awards Committee and President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board; Woody Schultz, known for his work on Avatar, American Pie and Beowulf and SAG Awards Committee member; Kevin James, Board of Public Works Commission President and LA’s Chief Film Liaison; and our own Scott Steen, American Forests’ President and CEO.

Even the German Shepherd next door stopped barking to listen.

American Forests was also excited to announce our new Text-to-Give number, allowing SAG Awards guests and viewers (just like you!) to plant 10 trees for $10. To join in the fun and help plant a tree in Angeles National Forest, text FORESTS to 80077. You can make a difference!


American Forests Partners with Verizon, NFL to Make Super Bowl 50 “Green”

by American Forests

By Austa Somvichian-Clausen, Communications Intern

Chips Forest fire scar.

Chips Forest fire scar.

American Forests is excited to announce a partnership with the National Football League (NFL), the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and Verizon to plant trees on behalf of Super Bowl 50. Our partnership goes beyond February 7th’s big game as we work in 2016 to plant 28,500 trees as part of our Chips Forest Restoration project in Lassen National Forest, where Verizon has committed to planting 21,000 trees — enough to restore a forest equivalent to the footprint of Levi’s Stadium, the Super Bowl 50 venue — and the NFL also added an additional 7,500 trees.

The Chips Forest Restoration Project seeks to restore a large portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which was severely damaged by a fire in 2012. The fire raged on for more than a month and destroyed more than 75,000 acres along the mountain range. By planting a mixture of conifers in the area, vegetation species diversity will be improved, which will consequently improve watershed and soil conditions and aid in carbon sequestration. The importance of healthy California watersheds cannot be stressed enough — the upper watersheds of Lassen National Forest flow into streams that support the federally-listed threatened species Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The same watersheds ultimately flow into the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed, which is the primary source of drinking water for 25 million California residents.

The restoration project is also set to include a summer camp program, catering to elementary school-age children, with the purpose of introducing them to what makes the forest unique. The children will be guided by camp staff, as well as natural resource professionals, on educational hiking and climbing activities on the eastern shore of Eagle Lake, Calif.

In addition, as part of a wider effort to illustrate their dedication to the welfare of our environment, the NFL, the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and Verizon have teamed up to develop a series of initiatives, including their Urban Forestry Project. They intend for these initiatives to reduce the environmental impacts of this year’s Super Bowl activities in order to create a “green legacy” for the San Francisco Bay Area and to offset emissions both created by travel-related pollution and when renewable power is not feasible during the Super Bowl.

The Urban Forestry Project will consist of several tree plantings that will take place in the Bay area this January. These include a planting in Palo Alto at the MLK Jr. Park on the 18th in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a Celebration of Trees Event at Everett Middle School in San Francisco on the 22nd. The Celebration of Trees Event invites representatives from all of the local participating urban forestry organizations in the Bay Area to attend, along with representatives from the NFL, the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, American Forests and Verizon — to celebrate 10 local urban forestry projects, and two large-scale reforestation projects, including the Chips Forest Restoration project.


Forest Digest – Week of January 11, 2016

by American Forests
Trees with heavy snow

Credit: Chuck Burgess via Flickr

Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!


And the award goes to…Best Trees in Film History

by Christopher Horn

With movie awards season in full swing, we wanted to take a look at some of the biggest and best tree performances over the course of film history. And, as the official green partner of the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and TNT), these are a few award winners we’re confident in selecting!

Best Action Performance

Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy”

 

Though he’s not from Earth, Marvel Comic’s Groot has arboreal features that were brought to the silver screen in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” His speaking skills are limited — he pretty much only says “I am Groot” — his fighting abilities are not!

Best Horror Scene

The Gnarled Tree from “Poltergeist”

poltergeist tree

Credit: PhillyTrees.

While ghosts, ax murderers and vampires get a lot of horror film credits, trees have played in a couple noteworthy roles — remember the creepy Tree of the Dead from “Sleepy Hollow” that houses the heads of the Horseman’s victims? Despite this, 1982’s horror gem “Poltergeist” takes the crown for trees in the genre. Amid an array of supernatural phenomena plaguing a family, a possessed tree in the backyard scoops a kid out of his bed and attempts to eat him. Now, that’s freaky!

Best Actor

The Apple Tree from “The Wizard of Oz”

Tree from Wizard of Oz

Credit: oz.wikia.com.

Forgetting she wasn’t in Kansas anymore, a very hungry Dorothy attempts to take an apple from a well-spoken tree and immediately regrets it. Combining a sharp tongue and husky growl, the Apple Tree vividly captured the essence of rotten fruit in this movie classic. The role required some athletic skill, too — after the Scarecrow fires an insult about worms in his apples, the Apple Tree winds up and throws at fastball, knocking the Scarecrow over.

Best Actress

Grandmother Willow from “Pocahontas”

Grandmother Willow

Credit: Disney.

Speaking of sharp tongues, no other tree in film history could crack a one-liner like Grandmother Willow in Disney’s “Pocahontas.” With a quirky charm and centuries-old wisdom, Grandmother Willow blended humor with sage advice to help Pocahontas paint with all the colors of the wind. She also showed off her singing chops in the song “Listen with Your Heart.”

Best Ensemble Cast

The Ents from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

 

There’s no better ensemble cast than the Ents of Middle-earth in the second film of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Led by long-winded Treebeard, the group of forest guardians attack Isengard, home to the wizard Saruman who has decimated the surrounding forest. With rocks and stone and a pair of hobbits, Treebeard and the Ents attack the tower, avenge the loss of their tree friends and end Saruman’s assault on the forest they call home.

Have other favorites? Please share with us in the comments!


Restoring the Longleaf Pine on Tyndall Air Force Base

by American Forests

By Sydney Mucha, Communications Intern

longleaf pine

Longleaf pine stands provide vital habitat and food for many organisms by helping feed the fire regime. Photo credit: US F&W Service/Flickr

Now that the weather is getting colder and colder in so many parts of the country, many of us have fantasized of moving to Florida. Well, many tree and animal species are lucky enough to call the sunshine state home. And, thanks to American Forests’ partnership with the Longleaf Alliance in 2015 as part of our Global Releaf program, their home at the Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City got a major upgrade! In fact, 68,000 longleaf pine, a keystone species, were planted across 100 acres.

The Longleaf Alliance was created to ease communication between private landowners, forest industries, state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, scientists and tree huggers alike and provide them with the education needed to help the longleaf pine thrive from Virginia to Florida. With their help, the longleaf pine is being restored and managed all along the southeast, where ecosystems are beginning to thrive!

The longleaf pine is considered extremely important in the south since it has the ability to grow in sandy, dry, infertile soil as well as on steep or mountainous slopes. This enables the pine to prevent soil erosion, which can be damaging to coastal and freshwater ecosystems. They are also extremely resistant to pine beetles, forest diseases, fire and strong storms, making them ideal for coastal areas and forests. All these qualities make the longleaf pine an amazing tree that provides habitat for a wide range of species, such as the endangered gopher tortoise and the Bachmann’s sparrow.

gopher tortoise

Fires are fueled by longleaf pine needles, which help keep shrubs small enough for gopher tortoises to eat. Photo credit: vladeb/Flickr

Gopher tortoises are long-lived, threatened reptiles that frequent longleaf pine stands and eat the low-growing vegetation. These land-dwelling creatures build borrows in the sand, and once they migrate to a different area, another creature will continue to use the abandon borrow. Bachmann’s sparrows live in the understory of old-growth longleaf pine stands, but as habitat destruction has increased due to urbanization, they are becoming a rare site. What is even more interesting is that longleaf pine ecosystems also provide habitat for at least 27 other endangered species in the southeast. This tree is vital to their prosperity, making restoration and management the key to their success.

While this site may not be different from other longleaf restoration project sites, Robert Abernethy, President of the Longleaf Association did say, “that the site will be beneficial to the wildlife that use the longleaf habitat and will provide military personnel, as well as the public, with improved recreational opportunities such as hunting, camping, hiking and bicycling.”

The longleaf is also extremely long lived — 450 plus years — which will make this site last for “nearly half a millennium,” and go on to provide habitat and recreation for generations to come. American Forests is happy to help support projects such as this, and we hope all of you take the time to visit this site or other longleaf pine forests!


Forest Digest – Week of January 4, 2016

by American Forests

Find out the latest in forestry news in this week’s Forest Digest!mixed forest


Go Green: 2016 Green New Year’s Resolutions

by Ashlan Bonnell

As 2016 kicks it into gear, many are setting resolutions for the new year — to be healthier, to spend more time disconnected from technology or to travel more, just to name a few. So, we thought it would be fun to see what people are resolving to do this year in efforts to help our environment. Here’s a few of our favorites, shared by our Facebook friends!

1. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to help out the environment. For those of you who already recycle, consider ways you can take it a step further, or perhaps consider taking on composting. But, for those who currently don’t recycle, it’s not hard to start! Even if you begin with baby steps — plastic bottles, cardboard boxes or cartons, yesterday’s newspaper — you will be making a difference!

recycled glass bottles

2. Diversify your backyard or garden.
Many don’t realize that conservation efforts can start right in your own backyard. If done properly, your landscaping can boost biodiversity. The key? Selecting native plant species. With an eye toward the ecosystem, you can find the perfect combination of native species that are both aesthetically please and beneficial!

native plant nursery

Native plant nursery. Credit: Tom Potterfield.

3. Clean up our forests.
Forests are all around us, and we LOVE to enjoy them. From national forests to those in our backyards, they provide recreation, relaxation and, not to mention, they’re beautiful to look at. But, unfortunately, people litter… a lot! So, make a resolution to pick up any trash you see when you’re in the forest. Or, consider planning a “clean up” day and make it into a community event!

forest

4. Plant more trees!
Yes, we know this is going to sound cliché coming from American Forests…but, there is a reason we do what we do! Trees provide so many benefits to the environment, and the earth is constantly losing them. So, it’s up to all of us to make sure that our forests are restored, enabling them to provide benefits to our planet at their full potential.

seedlings

Okay, I know what you’re going to say: “no one keeps resolutions past February.” But, come on! Have a little faith. We know you can do it! Maybe you have other resolutions you’re making this year to protect our forests? Please share them with us! Comment and tell us how you’re making a commitment to our planet this year.


Into The Woods

by Christopher Horn

“You can smell the forest from here.”

My younger brother Chad, who was visiting me in San Francisco from San Diego, and I were were still winding along California Highway 1 about a mile or so from the entrance to Muir Woods National Monument when I commented on the fragrance wafting around the natural treasure we were about to see.

Despite being in the forestry field for more than five years, never in my handful of trips to San Francisco have I visited Muir Woods. So, when I was in the Bay Area in November for work, I made sure to set aside a day to visit the park and take as many photos as I could.

Christopher Horn at entrance to Muir Woods National Monument.

At the entrance to Muir Woods, rocking my American Forests t-shirt!

Upon walking through the entrance sign, the dramatic hues of green and crisp coastal air enveloped us. Though there were quite a few other people at the park that day, the trails were serene, and we rarely crossed paths with other visitors. Muir Woods seemed like our own arboreal playground.

Chad and I hardly spoke to each other as we walked. I was focused on simply observing the park’s natural wonders — from the surprisingly tiny cones of the coast redwood to the color of the bark that is the species’ namesake. It brought back fond memories of my childhood science classes, while the impressive height of the trees made my neck ache from looking up so much, a feeling I had on my first visit to Midtown Manhattan.

Pathway in Muir Woods showing the human-to-tree scale in the forest.

The groves of coast redwoods dwarfed my brother Chad as we walked along the Muir Woods trails.

Christopher Horn's National Parks Passport stamps from Muir Woods National Monument.

The first stamps in my National Parks Passport. Here’s to finding my park in 2016!

It’s astonishing that old-growth redwood forests, like those in Muir Woods, constitute only a fraction — less than 200,000 acres — of what was once vast coast redwood forestland along the coast of California and southern Oregon, a native range that could sustain 1.6 million acres of redwoods.

I am also happy to say that I finally got my National Parks Passport on this trip — my good friend Liz will be pleased to hear! — and with this year being the National Park Service’s centennial, I’m going to make an effort in 2016 to visit as many national parks, monuments, historic sites, etc., as I possibly can. You should #FindYourPark, too!

See all the photos from my trip below, including a lovely sunset I documented near the Golden Gate Bridge!


Happy New Year!

by Ashlan Bonnell

Wishing you happiness, prosperity and

joy this new year!

From everyone at American Forests

Winter landscape

Credit: Chuck Fazio


8 Creative Ways to Recycle, or Reuse, Your Christmas Tree

by American Forests

By Austa Somvichian-Clausen, Marketing and Communications Intern

There’s so much more that can be done with your Christmas tree besides throwing it away! From festive decorations to functional garden helpers, here are a few tips on how to make the most of your Christmas tree this year.

1Living Bird Feeder
A whole Christmas tree makes an excellent bird feeder for your backyard. Stick the tree in the ground or leave it in its stand. A wide variety of birds will be attracted by suet, cranberry and popcorn strings, stale bread and dried, chopped fruit in mesh bags. If you grow sunflower seeds, simply hang the whole sunflower head on the tree. Your family will discover that chickadees, song sparrows, cardinals and a host of other birds come for the food and stay for the shelter.

Christmas tree bird feeder

Credit: Urban Sea Star via Flickr

2Home and Garden Decor
Cut off all the branches and use the trunk to edge a garden. The trunk can also be strategically placed in your garden as a resting spot for birds, squirrels and other little critters. You can also use the cut-off branches as decorations throughout your home.

Christmas tree decor

Credit: Poppet with a camera via Flickr

3Mold-Free Mulch
Since pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, you can use them as moisture- and mold-free mulch in your garden. Many communities throughout the country have tree-recycling programs, in which trees are collected from residents and then chopped up to be used as mulch for plants in community parks and gardens. You can find out about your local tree-recycling program by calling city hall.

Christmas tree mulch

Credit: Philip Bump via Flickr

4Relax by the Fire
The trunk can be sawed into logs and burned in your fireplace. Just make sure to not burn the branches, since they can send off sparks!

Fireplace

Credit: Riccardo Cuppini via Flickr

5Smell Like Christmas Year-Round
You can make a DIY air freshener by crushing up the pine needles and putting it into a bowl of potpourri or into sachets.

Pine needles

Credit: Meg Hourihan via Flickr

6Sippin’ on Tea
Another use for your pine needles is to make them into tea. It’s as easy as steeping pine needles in boiling water, and then straining it into cups to drink.

tea

Credit: snap713 via Flickr

7Wooden Coasters
Use the stump of your tree to make wooden coasters! Saw your tree stump into 1/3- or ½-inch-thick disks.

coaster

Credit: Craftybridge

8Feed Your Garden
If you still have your Christmas tree out in the yard when warm weather appears, there’s still a use for it. Burn the branches, which contain soil-enriching nutrients and minerals, and spread ashes in your garden.

Garden

Credit: RediRock International via Flickr