Remember the Longleaf

by American Forests

By Josh DeLacey

When Alabama became a state in 1819, up to 90 million acres (140,000 square miles) of longleaf pine forests stretched across the southeastern United States. That’s an area almost the size of Montana — an area larger than all the national parks combined — all covered in towering pine trees. Early settlers described the forests as “limitless.”

Longleaf pine. Credit: Randy Browning/USFWS

Longleaf pine. Credit: Randy Browning/USFWS

Now, just two million acres of longleaf forests remain — less than three percent of the historic range — and less than half a percent of that is old growth. If you don’t want to do the math, there are just 12,000 scattered acres of old-growth longleaf left, down from 90 million. Because longleaf pines are slow growing, they produce strong wood, and because they consistently grow straight, they make ideal material for masts, telephone poles and beams. From the 1880s to 1920s, longleaf was heavily harvested, and by the 1930s, the forests were a fraction of their former size. This led harvesters and foresters to take action to try to help the longleaf, recognizing the importance of the species and its forest ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the two policies that were implemented actually harmed longleaf pines even further. First, harvesters began to rely on slash and loblolly pines. Although those species produced inferior wood, they did it cheaper, easier and quicker than the persnickety longleaf pine, which meant that while the longleaf was no longer being harvested, it also wasn’t being replanted through emerging sustainability practices.

I call longleaf pines persnickety because they require periodic groundfires in order to compete with other wildlife. And that leads to the second harmful policy: fire suppression. In the early and mid-20th century, the U.S. Forest Service prevented wildfires far too successfully for longleaf pines to thrive. So of the longleaf forests that once could have covered Montana, they now could only fill half of the state’s largest city, Billings.

As frustrating as that decimation is, it doesn’t stop with longleaf pines themselves. Longleafs provide huge benefits for their ecosystems, and without them, the nation is missing a very valuable resource.

A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy.

A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy. Credit: John Maxwell/USFWS

Because here’s the thing about longleaf pines:

  • They support biodiversity. Nearly 600 species are associated with longleaf pine ecosystems. Half of those are considered rare, more than 100 are at-risk and 30 are threatened or endangered. Some of the best known of these species are indigo snakes, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and flatwoods salamanders.
  • They provide erosion control. Longleaf pines can grow where other pines can’t, including sandy, dry and infertile soil or steep, mountainous slopes.
  • They’re durable. Longleaf pines are more resistant to diseases, insects, fires and storms than other southeastern pines. This makes them well-suited for climate change, ready to withstand extreme weather and climates.

American Forests is working on several programs to restore longleaf forests through Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects and our Global ReLeaf work. For the last two years, we’ve partnered with Alcoa Foundation to plant longleaf pines near Charleston, S.C. For these projects, local Alcoa employees join other volunteers to help restore longleaf to their native habitat. And these are just a few of our longleaf projects.

So remember the longleaf pines and help us bring them back.

Where No Tree Has Gone Before

by American Forests

By Tacy Lambiase

More intense wildfires, drought and drier soil — these are just some of the negative consequences of climate change that can seriously affect the health of trees. But what happens when warmer temperatures actually make certain ecosystems more hospitable for trees? According to a new study, the arctic tundra is one environment that won’t be treeless for much longer.

The tundra in Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska

The tundra in Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska. Credit: Western Arctic National Parklands

The arctic tundra, an ecosystem traditionally known for its lack of trees and shrubs, is undergoing a transformation. Over the past few decades, pine trees and large shrubs have begun to cover this once sparsely vegetated region. Using advanced climate models and satellite data, the authors of the new study in Nature Climate Change have concluded that Earth’s northernmost treeline is infringing on the arctic tundra.

“As a result of the enhanced warming … the total amount of heat available for plant growth in these northern latitudes is increasing,” Compton Tucker, an author on the study and a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, tells Discovery News. “This created, during the past 30 years, large patches of vigorously productive vegetation, totaling more than a third of the northern landscape — over nine million square kilometers, which is roughly about the area of the USA — resembling the vegetation that occurs further to the south.”

Although many species of trees do not seem to be able to migrate fast enough to keep up with a changing climate, clearly some plants are successfully moving northward and thriving. But will this migration be ultimately beneficial for these trees? What about the landscape they’re changing?

Canada’s Sirmilik National Park, which is situated within the Arctic Cordillera

Canada’s Sirmilik National Park, which is situated within the Arctic Cordillera. Credit: Mike Beauregard

As Discovery News points out, warmer temperatures do not necessarily mean more rainfall, especially in North America. If the arctic tundra becomes simultaneously warmer and drier, then some trees might not be able to survive there after all. The native vegetation and wildlife of the arctic tundra can also be negatively impacted by climate change. Since its small plants and mosses need cool temperatures and a wetter climate to survive, the arctic tundra may not be able to continue to support these species. Although it may seem like more trees in any part of the world is a positive development, broader effects of climate change could ultimately spell disaster for the natural ecosystems of our northern climates.

In addition, the arctic tundra might even contribute to exacerbating climate change. Much of the arctic tundra is covered in permafrost, or frozen soil, which releases carbon and methane into the air when it melts. If temperatures become too high for the permafrost to remain frozen, the amount of carbon released by melting permafrost will have a significant effect on the atmosphere, climate change and the ecological make-up of the tundra.

The arctic tundra is a beautiful, but complex ecosystem. As scientists continue to study the effects of climate change, it will be important to keep this particular habitat on our radars.

The Sequestration and Conservation

by American Forests

By Michelle Werts

A little more than a week ago, the long-dreaded budget sequestration began, which is forcing all federal agencies to make five percent budget cuts to all of their programs, activities, etc. And as we’ve all been seeing in the news, five percent might seem like a small number, but it can have big impacts. For instance, my bus friend (that person you only ever see and talk to while commuting to and from work) mentioned that the topic of furloughs for him and his fellow employees has already been broached. This immediate loss of livelihood is one of the most obvious, tangible effects of sequestration, but its tentacles are actually everywhere.

Colorado’s High Park Fire in 2012 that burned across more than 87,000 acres

Colorado’s High Park Fire in 2012 that burned across more than 87,000 acres. Credit: U.S. Forest Service

Let’s start with our beloved national parks. Alison’s recent post outlined how a sequestration will affect visitor services at famous landscapes like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, but what about the local economies that rely on those parks? Last month, the National Park Service revealed that visitors to national parks generated $30.1 billion in 2011. More than a third of this spending — to the tune of $13 billion — went directly into local economies within 60 miles of the parks. For every $1 invested in our national parks in 2011, $10 were returned. So if reduced hours of operation and services due to sequestration lead to reduced national park visiting, ripples will be felt for miles.

Next up: fire. In 2012, more than 9.3 million acres burned in wildland fires, which is 28 percent higher than the national 10-year average. More than 4,000 structures were destroyed in 2012 wildfires, compared to the average of 2,700 per year! As you can imagine, all of this led to more requests for firefighting resources than the average — resources that are funded through federal agencies, specifically the U.S. Forest Service. A five percent cut could mean less funds to fight wildfires in 2013, or it could mean other programs may suffer as funds have to be moved to cover firefighting. Both are losing scenarios.

And I don’t even know where to begin with conservation programs across the agencies, as sequestration is going to significantly impact so many programs. Maybe just a few examples from our near and dear U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will suffice.

  • The Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Area within Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest

    The Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Area within Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest. Credit: U.S. Forest Service

    USFS issues special permits every year for specialized recreation on public land, such as ski areas and outfitter-guides. With budget cuts, USFS estimates it would only be able to manage half of its normal permits, affecting the 122 ski areas and 5,000 outfitter-guides, not to mention others.

  • USFS’ Legacy Roads and Trails program creates or retains between 810 and 1,296 high quality jobs in rural America each year. These individuals help with water quality, fish habitat and recreation sites in national forests. It’s estimated that for every $1 million cut for this budget, anywhere between 15 and 24 jobs will be lost. With an FY12 budget of only $45 million, a five percent cut means 30 to 48 jobs are on the line.
  • With cuts to the Urban and Community Forestry Program, the ability of local communities, tribes and nonprofits across the country to conserve thousands of acres of forests would be compromised, and these cuts would mean reduced resources to help thousands of communities and towns to manage, maintain and improve their tree cover and greenspaces.

I think we get the picture. Although, for a complete, disheartening look at all of the conservation programs and how they will be impacted by the sequestration, head over to our Policy page.

Our country is in a tough financial jam and cuts may need to happen, but shouldn’t they happen with some concerted thought and planning? Conservation programs represented a measly 1.26 percent of the federal budget in 2012. Is a five percent sweeping cut across them all the best course of action? Let’s hope the continuing resolution proposed by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that is expected to go up for a vote this week gains some traction because while the cuts would still be present, the Senate continuing resolution would at least allow the agencies to decide where they’re made. I would surely rest easier to know that experts are deciding the fate of conservation, as opposed to blind cuts.

A Menace to Maples

by Susan Laszewski
Asian longhorned beetle

Adult Asian longhorned beetle. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

If it wasn’t enough of a threat to America’s sweet tooth that climate change may affect maple syrup yields in the next 50 years, the sugar maple is facing another threat as well — an invasive pest. We’re wrapping up Invasive Species Awareness Week by shining the spotlight on a tiny pest with big consequences: the Asian longhorned beetle or ALB.

ALB is a black beetle between one and one-and-a-half inches long, with white spots and — as its name implies — two antennae that are even longer than its body. In addition to recognizing the beetles themselves, you can also spot them by signs of occupation on the tree. In early autumn, females dig out oval depressions in which to lay their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they burrow into the wood to feed and grow through the winter. In spring, they emerge as adult beetles, leaving tell-tale, dime-sized holes behind them.

ALB exit holes

ALB exit holes. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

ALB most likely arrived by way of wooden packing crates from their native range of China and parts of Korea and Japan. Their presence has already cost the U.S. tens of thousands of trees and hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars, and that’s just in the few states where they’ve established themselves so far: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and, previously, Illinois. If they get a chance to spread throughout the country, they have “the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight and gypsy moths combined” and kill 30 percent of the country’s hardwoods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The maple industry, in particular, is worried. This $41 million industry has already been affected in Massachusetts, where more than 60 square miles are under quarantine, and nearby Vermont and New Hampshire are keeping a close eye for signs of the bug. Sugar and other maples also give us some of the most vibrant fall colors. One million tourists flock to New England to leaf peep every fall, bringing a billion dollars in tourism revenue with them, all of which could be at the mercy of ALB if it continues to spread.

Asian longhorned beetles

Adult Asian longhorned beetles. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

What’s more, while maples appear to be a favorite of the beetle, they are not the only trees in danger. Unlike some pickier beetles, ALB enjoys a wide variety of deciduous hardwood trees, including ash, birch, elm, poplar and willow. This means that the maple-dependent industries will not be the only ones in danger. ALB could have far-reaching consequences for the lumber and nursery industries, too.

But there is hope. ALB has already been eradicated in Illinois and in certain counties of New Jersey and New York.

What can you do? Using local firewood is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of ALB and other invasive pests. Check out to learn more.

Invasive Species: How You Can Help

by American Forests

By Tacy Lambiase

As Monday’s blog post showed, invasive species can be really bad news for our country’s native plants and animals. From white pine blister rust in the West to the emerald ash borer devastating trees across the Midwest, nonnative species can throw ecosystems completely out of balance.

But what can be done to stop these species from getting out of control? What can individual people do to help? In honor of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, we’ve compiled a list of simple steps that you can take to prevent the proliferation of invasive species.

  • Volunteers remove water chestnut, an invasive species, from Oxbow Lake in Massachusetts.

    Volunteers remove water chestnut, an invasive species, from Oxbow Lake in Massachusetts. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Plant native species of trees and shrubs on your property. Although some plants may look aesthetically pleasing, they are not always beneficial to the local environment. In addition to preserving your lawn’s soil, consciously choosing to landscape with native plants will make your yard into a suitable habitat for birds and other wildlife. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website to find out what nonnative species may inhabit your backyard already.

  • Get involved with a local effort to remove invasive species. Many environmental groups organize events for volunteers to help remove invasive plants from parks or other wild areas.
  • Never release pets or exotic animals into the wild. Recently, scientists have discovered giant goldfish living in Lake Tahoe. It is believed that these fish ended up in the lake after people dumped the contents of their aquariums into the water. Now that these goldfish are eating large amounts of smaller fish, they are threatening to disrupt the natural food chain of Tahoe’s ecosystem. If you ever need to find a new home for an animal, contact a local rescue group or nature center.
  • After spending time in nature, be sure to clean off the outside of your boat or camping equipment. Invasive plants and seeds can become easily trapped in outdoor recreation gear, and you could accidentally help them spread to new environments.

Finally, you can support organizations that work to combat invasive species. Since 2011, American Forests has been working to protect Lake Tahoe’s forests against white pine blister rust. Although sugar pines used to cover the region, they now account for less than five percent of the tree cover around Lake Tahoe because of this invasive fungus. American Forests also supported a project in Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota to reforest an area with native plants that had been overrun by nonnative plant species, including tansy and honeysuckle.

By becoming educated about invasive species, we can all take action to mitigate the serious effects they can have on our environment.

Revitalizing Los Angeles’ Backyard

by American Forests

By Michelle Werts

For many Americans, spending time in a forest is a time-honored getaway:

  • 42.5 million Americans or 15 percent of the U.S. population older than age six went camping in 2011.
  • 67 percent of those campers camped in public campgrounds, like those of local, state and national parks and forests.
    Courtesy of the 2012 American Camper Report.
Volunteers doing restoration work in Angeles National Forest

During phase one of this effort to restore Angeles National Forest, volunteers from the Alcoa Carson Fastening Plant, John Marshall High School and San Fernando High School helped with the restoration work on a Friends of the Forest Day. Credit: National Forest Foundation

Sometimes, though, our favorite getaway sites get caught in the path of forces bigger than themselves, which is what happened to popular picnic sites in Angeles National Forest in 2009. A wildfire known as the Station Fire consumed 25 percent of the national forest, damaging many of the picnic areas. These areas are a popular site for relaxation, as they are less than hour away from a majority of the L.A. Basin’s 17 million residents.

To help restore the Wildwood Picnic Site, Stoneyvale Picnic Site, Hidden Springs Picnic Site and Delta Flats Day Use Area in Angeles National Forest, American Forests is partnering with Alcoa Foundation to plant a combination of coast live oak, canyon live oak, Douglas-fir, arroyo willows and cottonwoods.

Working alongside Alcoa employees and the National Forest Foundation, this project is strengthening more than just recreation areas. It’s also restoring riparian areas to help maintain a healthy local watershed and is fostering forest stewardship through four volunteer tree planting days. This project, like so many of our Global ReLeaf projects, illustrates how much can be achieved when we join together to help the environment.

Urban Forests and Ecosystem Services Research

by Melinda Housholder, Urban Forests Program Director
The Einstein Memorial on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

The Einstein Memorial on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. Credit: Wally Gobetz

Last week, I participated in a workshop titled “Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda” at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The workshop brought together more than 100 participants, and many more tuned-in via webinar. What a great turn out!

With interesting presentations, discussions and networking opportunities, I was excited to participate and hone in on the workshop’s key objectives to:

  • Explore the role of trees within the greater urban ecosystem and the linkages/trade-offs among different types of ecosystem services within this larger context.
  • Review our current understanding of the different types of ecosystem services provided by urban forestry, and discuss research needs for improving this understanding.
  • Highlight key tools available to track and quantify ecosystem services, and identify gaps in our ability to model, measure and monitor such services.
  • Identify effective management strategies and key challenges in implementing successful urban forestry programs.
Eco-Health Relationship Health Science Browser

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Eco-Health Relationship Health Science Browser”:

One main outcome that I enjoyed from this workshop was the update on all sorts of cool tools that are out there to help us talk about the ecosystem services provided by urban forests. For example:

  • Laura Jackson, a research biologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development, presented the “Eco-Health Relationship Health Science Browser.” This tool highlights the urban ecosystem and all the related public health benefits. Take a stroll around this interactive tool and see what you can learn.
  • Dave Nowak, a project leader for the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and an American Forests Science Advisory Board Member, discussed some of the new features of the recently launched i-Tree v5.0. The i-Tree suite provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The new i-Tree v5.0 features lots of great things, including a web-based data collection system (you can now use your smart phones to collect data with i-Tree!), pest risk analysis and updated ecosystem services pollution and carbon valuations. Check out all the new things!

In addition to the talk about tools for ecosystem service evaluation, there were also great discussions about improving the management of urban forests. One especially interesting presentation was from Morgan Grove, a social ecologist and team leader of the U.S. Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station, who pointed out that “there is more woody biomass coming out of urban forests than natural areas.” With much of this due to trees being removed in communities due to severe weather events or damage from invasive pests, we need to find a way to better manage those results. Offering suggestions and a framework to maximize the biomass from our urban forests, he has been working to develop an interesting project in Baltimore for “Rethinking Wood in the City.”

I look forward to catching up on all the presentations that I missed the first day of the workshop that discussed current research on topics such as the role of urban forestry in public health, in sustaining biodiversity, in stormwater management and in air quality. So many great topics and important research underway!

Stay tuned for the final report that will be produced by the National Academy of Sciences based on the results of this workshop and the state of the urban forests ecosystem services research agenda. As an urban forest practitioner, tree planter, environmentalist or just interested community member, what type of research would you like to see prioritized to help enhance and improve our urban forests?

The Fungus Eating the West

by Susan Laszewski

It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and here at American Forests, we’re all-too-aware of the havoc that invasive species can wreak on our native ecosystems.


Kudzu, the plant that ate the South. Credit: SoftCore Studios/Flickr

Some invasive species really make a name for themselves. Kudzu, a vine native to Japan and China, grew over trees in parts of America so quickly that it’s been called “the plant that ate the South” and has became a poster child for invasive species.

Other invasives may lack catchy nicknames, but are no less harmful. American Forests has been working to spread awareness of one invasive with a lower profile: the fungus Cronartium ribicola — cause of the deadly white pine blister rust affecting the American West. Mountain pine beetles often take all the credit for the devastation in Western high-elevation forests in recent years, but they haven’t done it alone. Could blister rust one day be known as the fungus that ate the West?

white pine blister rust

White pine blister rust, the fungus that’s eating the West. Credit: Grav Skeldon/U.S. Forest Service

The rust, which arrived from Asia at the turn of the 20th century, moves from its alternate host — usually a plant of the Ribes genus like gooseberry — to a white pine. While the alternate host will shed its leaves in the fall, and the rust along with them, the pine will be facing a slow death. Although it may take years for the tree to die, in the meantime, the disease prevents the tree from dispersing nutrients and water, limiting its production of cones and, consequently, its ability to reproduce.

One of the white pine species susceptible to blister rust is whitebark pine, the sometimes-scraggly, other-worldly, high-elevation pines that are a keystone species in the Mountain West. The death of these pines has cascading effects throughout the ecosystem, from the biggest grizzly bear to the smallest Clark’s nutcracker, both of whom rely on the pine seeds for food. What’s more, without whitebark pine to shade snowpack, snow melts faster and sooner, causing flooding at lower elevations and even affecting the winter outdoor recreation industry.

whitebark pine seedlings

Blister rust-resistant whitebark pine seedlings planted by American Forests and the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee.

But there’s hope. About 27 percent of all whitebark pine is naturally resistant to blister rust. American Forests has been working with the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee to plant seedlings of these resistant plants. Generous donations from our supporters enabled the planting of seedlings like those shown at right, as well as our activities testing adult trees for resistance and protecting the cones of resistant trees. But we’re not done yet. Please help us continue to increase our native whitebark pines’ resistance to this ambitious invasive before it devours our Mountain West.

Urban Trees on the Hill

by Amanda Tai

It’s been a busy week for those in the urban forest community. To start the week, the National Academy of Sciences held a workshop on urban forestry. Experts from around the country gathered to discuss the benefits of urban forests and how to best leverage them to move research and policies forward.

On Wednesday, the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC), of which American Forests is a member of the steering committee, held its annual Advocacy Day where participants from across the country met with their members of Congress to talk about urban forests. Once gathered, we got a quick rundown of the political environment on the Hill and what to expect meeting with staffers. With sequestration and budget cuts on everyone’s mind, the coalition’s objective was to make sure that Congress got the connection between federal funding for urban forest programs and the benefits to their local communities.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program and Forest Health Management Program are essential for technical and financial assistance to more than 7,000 communities in all 50 states. Other programs like Urban Natural Resources Research and Early Plant Pest Detection and Surveillance found in the Farm Bill help urban forest management by making sure communities have the most up-to-date information to best care for trees in their areas.

I was the team lead for a group of folks from the Midwest, accompanying them to their various meetings on the Hill. They were quite knowledgeable about these programs. Not in the same way I learned about them in D.C., but because they received federal funding to do urban forest work in their local communities. One of my team members, Lydia Scott from Lisle, Ill., works at the Morton Arboretum. The Morton Arboretum is one of the best tree research centers in the country that helps inform everyone from landscape architects to public officials. Lydia brought brochures that were created through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to inform citizens and communities in the greater Chicago area about emerald ash borer (EAB), which is a huge problem in the Midwest. (For more on emerald ash borer, see the American Forests magazine feature “Will We Kiss Our Ash Goodbye?”) With the help of USDA funding, these brochures help people identify affected trees and provide them with information and options for how to treat their trees.

Daniella Pereira from Openlands was also part of my group. I learned that the Openlands TreeKeeper program (partly funded by the U.S. Forest Service) helps train volunteers in the Chicago area to take care of trees, especially those affected by EAB. Not only does this program help trees, but it also gives citizens knowledge and skills that they can use later in life. It also provides them the opportunity to engage with their community while building a sense of land stewardship.

It was amazing to see how federal funding really does trickle down to local communities, and I felt appreciative and humbled to actually meet folks doing this great work on the ground.

My Midwest SUFC group in front of the Capitol Building before their first meeting.

My Midwest group took a quick photo op in front of the Capitol Building before their first meeting. From left to right: David Forsell from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Scott Jamieson from Bartlett Tree Experts, Daniella Pereira from Openlands, and Lydia Scott from Morton Arboretum.

The Green Budget and Advocacy

by American Forests

By Josh DeLacey

The Green Budget — a document published every year to illustrate the effect of federal conservation funding and programs on our public lands and ecosystems — debuts today, and I’m out getting it in senators’ and representatives’ hands. Well, to be more accurate, I get to help put it into their staffers’ hands. Still, this will be my first time advocating on my own, and I’m excited.

Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Credit: Michael Colburn

I started interning at American Forests less than a month ago, and through a whirlwind of meetings, research, writing and assisted advocating, I’m getting a handle on the conservation world. Today, I get to find out if I’ve learned enough to avoid embarrassing myself on the Hill.

The Green Budget that I’ll be distributing is the product of more than 30 environmental organizations, including American Forests, National Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society. American Forests’ senior director of programs and policy, Rebecca Turner, Esq., penned a majority of the Green Budget section related to U.S. Forest Service programs. It serves as a guide to the conservation programs that exist throughout the federal government and is meant for members of Congress, as well as for any organization or individual interested in environmental issues. The Green Budget shows the impacts of federal conservation funding on the nation’s lands, waters, natural resources and clean energy resources. It showcases the programs those of us in conservation care about, and it reveals how much those programs depend upon their already reduced, federal funding.

With the threat of sequestration looming, the Green Budget is more important than ever. And that’s why, although I’m excited for today’s advocating, I’m also nervous. There’s something about talking with a guy who reports directly to a representative who votes in the U.S. Congress that makes your work feel important. I mean, policy is (or isn’t) happening here — and either way, that has some significant effects. I expect to leave Capitol Hill exhausted and satisfied at the end of today. With a full schedule, a stack of Green Budgets and rampant excitement and nervousness, I am ready for a day of advocating.