Restoring the San Bernardino Mountains
Over the last eight years, the San Bernardino Mountains have suffered from devastating wildfires. In 2003, wildfires left almost 100 percent tree mortality in many areas throughout the mountains. Additional wildfires in 2007 destroyed more than 15,000 acres from Big Bear Valley to Lake Arrowhead. Approximately 12 million more conifers have died due to drought and bark beetle infestation. To combat these widespread losses, American Forests Global ReLeaf has been supporting planting and education efforts in this mountain community since 2005 alongside the Mojave Resource Conservation District and the California Department of Forestry and Fire.
The combination of wildfire, drought and bark beetle infestation has left the San Bernardino area’s forests suffering from two main problems: some areas are denuded, or barren, from the fires, while others have experienced significant alterations to the natural forest canopy because of the loss of so many pines. This Global ReLeaf program is working to address both problems by planting conifers in the burned areas and by planting pines and adjusting the tree species mix in the beetle-infested areas. By the end of this year, more than 425,000 trees will have been planted since 2005.
Beyond the aid to the forest canopy, these new trees will help prevent soil erosion and watershed destruction and will increase wildlife habitat in the San Bernardino Mountains. These activities will benefit more than 75,000 property owners in the mountain community.
The Mountain Communities Wildfire ReLeaf program also works to educate residents on the benefits of reforestation through community events, informational brochures and volunteering. The project’s volunteer events are aimed at increasing the survival rate of the newly planted seedlings by teaching attendees how to care for the seedling through proper watering and other activities.