Project Name: Tok Tree Planting
Location: Tok, Alaska
Number of Trees: 2,700
Wildfires in Alaska? They don’t make the news in the way that they do in California. However, in the last three years, more acres burned in Alaska than in California. About 129 million acres of the Alaskan wilderness is forested, about four times that of California. Many of these Alaskan fires threaten communities, like Tok in Alaska’s southeast, that are nestled in the forests.
Over the last 25 years, areas in Tok have been evacuated a half dozen times due to fire threats, and more than two million acres in the area have burned. This led to the creation of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in 2006, which identified a local school as the community evacuation center. Since then, Tok has worked to make the school as safe as possible — removing potential fire hazards from the grounds around the school. The resulting timber also doubled as a new fuel source to heat the school. Now, the community wants to educate its residents and students about fire and healthy forest management practices to help keep the community prepared for future threats, as well as prevent those threats through proper care of the surrounding forestlands.
American Forests is joining with the Alaska Community Forestry Program to plant 2,700 birch trees across six acres of school grounds to replace the highly flammable spruce that were removed. These trees will be planted with the help of the school’s students — from kindergarteners to high school seniors. The new birch trees will provide wildlife habitat around the school and in the long-term will be able to provide a renewable, clean fuel source for the school’s heating needs.
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