Forests for Fifty:
Protecting Wildlife Habitat
A recent study estimated that if current trends continue, a shocking one million species will become endangered in just the next 50 years. Forests are the primary habitat for wildlife around the world:
The California spotted owl makes its home primarily in California’s old-growth forests. Only a few thousand of these owls are estimated to live in the wild, and their habitat is constantly threatened by California wildfires.
- The tree-climbing American black bear is only found in North America. This species once roamed all the forested lands in the country, but deforestation — natural and manmade — has greatly reduced their habitat. Certain subspecies, like the Louisiana and Florida black bears, populations are now threatened.
- Jaguarundi, a slender-bodied wild cat, has been endangered for 25 years. This feline makes it home amidst brushlands, lightly wooded forests and riparian areas in the Americas. Its brushland habitat in Texas has decreased by 90 percent over the years.
Throughout 2011 and 2012, American Forests will be planting trees in all 50 states through our Forests for Fifty campaign. Many of these reforestation efforts, including the ones below, will benefit wildlife populations across the country. Other projects involve restoring forest ecosystems, educating the public and supporting urban forests. For more on wildlife in forests and our efforts to protect various species, head over to our Forests & Wildlife page.
In partnership with the USDA Forest Service, we will be planting Douglas fir in Angeles National Forest to reforest an area damaged by wildfire and to provide habitat for the endangered California spotted owl, among other species.
Wildfires in 2006 and 2007 devastated portions of Boise National Forest, so we are partnering with the USDA Forest Service to stabilize erosion in this area to improve water quality in its watershed and restore wildlife habitat, including lynxes, boreal owls, northern goshawks and northern three-toed woodpeckers.
Partnering with the National Wild Turkey Federation, we will be planting on pastureland in northeast Louisiana to create a bottomland hardwood forest that would connect forest fragments in the area, providing habitat for various bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species.
Alongside The Nature Conservancy, we are planting red spruce in Cranesville Swamp in Maryland in order to restore the native vegetation of that region, lost to years of logging, to reestablish habitat for wildlife like black bears and other rare or threatened wildlife species and to improve water quality in the area.
Kirtland’s warbler, a rare bird native to Michigan’s upper peninsula, was almost extinct by the mid 1900s. Throughout the last 20 years, we have worked with partners in Michigan to plant Jack pines, the only tree in which a Kirtland’s warbler will breed.
Due to development projects in northwest New Jersey, many of the state’s aquatic ecosystems are under stress, so we are pairing up with the North Jersey RC&D Council to plant trees along the Musconetcong River to improve the riparian area, helping stabilize the area’s waterways, improving water quality and providing habitat for wildlife.
Wildfires in 2007 and 2008 damaged the old-growth forests in New Mexico’s Cibola National Forest that Mexican spotted owls call home, and we are partnering with the USDA Forest Service to reforest 340 acres of this forest.
In order to provide habitat for the black-tailed deer and other species, we are working with the USDA Forest Service to reforest areas of Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest that sustained damage from the 2010 Rooster Rock Fire.
Like many other wildlife species, wild turkeys both gather food from and make their homes in forests and trees. Working with the National Wild Turkey Federation, we are planting native bur oak trees in South Dakota to bolster the turkeys’ habitat.
Through our work with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, we are converting an area in Tennessee from cleared land for agricultural purposes to a native bottomland hardwood wetland ecosystem. This will help manage the area’s water, provide wildlife habitat and create recreation opportunities.
Since 1997, we have been working to plant trees in Texas’ The Lower Rio Grand National Wildlife Refuge in order to connect fragmented forests that were once agricultural fields and to provide habitat for endangered ocelot and jaguarundi, as well as migratory birds and butterflies.
With the spruce beetle damaging the forests surrounding a popular fishing and birding location in Utah, Fishlake National Forest, we are working with the USDA Forest Service to reforest this locale and preserve habitat for many wildlife species, including elk, black bear, cougar and wild turkey.
In order to convert unneeded forest roads in Washington’s Colville National Forest into critical habitat for grizzly bear, woodland caribou and bull trout, we are partnering with Conservation Northwest to plant native conifers in Middle Branch LeClerc Creek Road.
How else is Forests for Fifty at work?