Pine stands in Muskegon County have suffered from insects and disease. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

Pine stands in Muskegon County have suffered from insects and disease. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

Populations of red pines were depleted due to harvesting practices in the 1800s. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

Populations of red pines were depleted due to harvesting practices in the 1800s. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

Eighty years ago, American Forests played an instrumental role in the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), working with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to put the nation back to work while developing the country’s natural resources. The CCC — also known as Roosevelt’s Tree Army — created a legacy of land stewardship through their many projects constructing park facilities and planting trees.

In the 1930s, the CCC planted red pine throughout Michigan to reestablish this native species which had been depleted in the 1800s due to over-harvesting. Today, many of the pine stands they planted in Muskegon County have suffered from insects and disease, and Michigan’s forests need our help once more.

Students and volunteers act as tree stewards for the Woods for Wildlife Initiative. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

Students and volunteers act as tree stewards for the Woods for Wildlife Initiative. Photo: Muskegon Conservation District

American Forests is partnering with Alcoa Foundation and the Muskegon Conservation District on the Woods for Wildlife Initiative, part of our 2012 Alcoa Foundation and American Forests Global ReLeaf Partnership for Trees. Now in its third year, the Partnership for Trees restores forestlands around the world, engaging local communities to plant more trees and help restore wildlife habitat. Through the Woods for Wildlife project, we’re planting 20,000 native trees and shrubs — including cedar, hemlock, spruce and others — across 26 acres in Muskegon, continuing the CCC’s legacy of protecting and restoring this important ecosystem. The project aims to increase the forest’s wildlife population by restoring this barren landscape, home to songbirds, wild turkey and others, to a more diverse forest that can provide for their needs year-round.

Another important aspect of the Woods for Wildlife project is education. This project is engaging 150 local students and volunteers as tree stewards. After helping with the plantings, the students will continue to monitor the project year to year, using forestry kits that include essential forestry tools like core extraction borers, digital thermometers and pocket wind meters. Local teachers will also be provided with materials to help cultivate an interest in forestry studies through their science classes.

Just as we continue the CCC’s legacy of land stewardship, so, too, we hope that future generations will continue to care for these lands.

For more Global ReLeaf projects, visit www.americanforests.org/global-releaf.