As a nonprofit organization, American Forests relies on charitable gifts to do its work. Thousands of corporations, foundations and individuals make tax-deductible gifts each year to support our efforts to protect and restore threatened forests throughout the United States and around the world.

A prime example of a project that could not be completed without philanthropic support is our wildlife habitat restoration project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. One of the poorest, yet fastest-growing regions in the U.S., the people and infrastructure of the Lower Rio Grande depend on the area’s wildlife refuges for jobs and spending spurred by ecotourism in the area. Since 1997, American Forests has channeled private funding to our partners to plant more than 1.5 million trees on the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

A vital partner in this endeavor is the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Foundation. Focused on improving quality of life in the state of Texas for its residents and its native wildlife, the foundation has enabled American Forests to substantially deepen its commitment to the Lower Rio Grande Valley ecosystem restoration. All told, the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Foundation has helped provide safe habitat for more than 490 diverse species of wildlife, including 40 percent of all migratory butterflies in the U.S. and two endangered species.

Decades ago, rampant agricultural and urban development in the area resulted in a depletion of more than 95 percent of the vegetation native to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Forward-thinking institutions like the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Foundation enable American Forests to identify these threatened areas and to develop and implement proactive restoration plans to reverse forest depletion. Thanks to the support of this generous and innovative foundation partner, our work will continue in the wildlife refuge until we are assured that we have restored it to its former glory.

For more on this Global ReLeaf project, read the “Global ReLeaf Showcase” and a “From the Field” report by our manager of forest restoration.