Today, September 10, 2015, American Forests is celebrating 140 years of protecting and restoring forest ecosystems! While we are excited to commemorate this milestone as an organization, we know that the work we have done and will continue to do would not be possible without the support of so many of you. So, thank you!

As we celebrate our 140th anniversary, we have had the opportunity to reflect on the many events and accomplishments that have defined the history of our organization while also looking forward to the work to be done in the future. This timeline represents some of those important memories and future goals. Plus, you can read even more about many of these events by flipping through your Spring/Summer 2016 issue of American Forests magazine or reading the articles here.

  • Eden Park, site of the first American Forestry Congress
    Eden Park, site of the first American Forestry Congress

    Led by Dr. John Aston Warder, concerned citizens found the American Forestry Association (AFA), now known as American Forests, to “protect the existing forests of the country from unnecessary waste.”

  • 1882
    AFA holds the first American Forestry Congress with a tree planting in Eden Park attended by 50,000 people.
  • 1888
    Mrs. Ellen Call Long presents “Notes on Some of the Forest Features of Florida,” the paper that would lead to prescribed burning, to AFA.
  • 1891
    After four years of work, AFA’s promotion of a bill that grants the president power to set aside forest reserves – a precursor to national forests – is successful. The same year, President Harrison proclaims nearly 13 million acres of forest reserves.
  • 1894
    American Forests magazine debuts.
  • 1911
    AFA succeeds in passing the Weeks Act, allowing for acquisition of forest reserves to protect watersheds and marking the first time in history that the federal government had purchased land specifically in recognition of its ecological services.
  • First Lady Harding plants a memorial tree
    First Lady Harding plants a memorial tree

    AFA launches memorial tree planting campaigns. First Lady Mrs. Warren G. Harding plants first memorial tree in Washington, D.C.

  • 1923
    American Forests publishes the first of many articles by Aldo Leopold.
  • 1924
    AFA gifts President and Mrs. Coolidge a living 35-foot Norway spruce planted near the White House on Sherman Plaza. It is the first living National Christmas Tree.
  • 1928
    AFA creates the Dixie Crusaders to educate people about wildfire.
  • 1930
    AFA conducts Congressional information campaigns that lead to the creation and protection of national parks in the Florida Everglades, Grand Tetons and Olympic mountains.
  • 1933
    AFA works with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the Civilian Conservation Corps. We also launch Trail Riders of the Wilderness.
  • 1940
    The national register of American Forests Champion Trees, then called American Big Trees Report, is established.
  • President Eisenhower presents Smokey Bear statuette to AFA President Don Johnston
    President Eisenhower presents Smokey Bear statuette to AFA President Don Johnston (center)

    AFA is presented a Smokey Bear statuette in recognition of its years of forest fire advocacy and education work.

  • 1968
    With the help of AFA, a new Task Force on a National Program for Wildfire Control is formed.
  • 1970
    Along with five other organizations, AFA is invited to submit its position and policy on clear-cutting by the Council on Environmental Quality.
  • 1982
    AFA launches its Urban Forests program and convenes the National Urban Forest Conference.
  • 1986
    After years of advocacy by AFA, President Ronald Reagan signs the 1985 Farm Bill, including the new Conservation Reserve program, into law.
  • 1988
    AFA announces Global ReLeaf, a program of tree planting for ecosystem restoration that addresses global challenges through local action.
  • 1989
    After decades of advocacy and policy work, AFA wins the battle to convince Congress to pass a national urban forestry policy.
  • Atlanta tree cover satellite images
    Atlanta tree cover satellite images

    The first Global ReLeaf forest established in Au Sable, Mich. Christopher Reeve stars in Global ReLeaf PSAs for the Discovery Channel.

  • 1991
    Global ReLeaf is awarded a President’s Citation for Innovation. First international Global ReLeaf project is established in Hungary.
  • 1992
    AFA is renamed American Forests as a reflection of its conservation focus.
  • 1996
    American Forests introduces CITYgreen software to analyze ecosystem and economic benefits of urban tree canopies and green spaces. Atlanta is the first satellite tree cover analysis.
  • 1998
    Forest Policy Center gives national policy voice to community-based ecosystem management. American Forests premieres Silent Witnesses, narrated by actor James Whitmore, on public television.
  • 1999
    Global ReLeaf plants its 10 millionth tree. American Forests partners with the White House to plant Millennium Groves in every state and territory.
  • Oprah's Angel Network joins with AF to plant trees
    Oprah’s Angel Network joins with AF to plant trees

    The Global ReLeaf program undertakes Trees for Tigers to help save Siberian tigers from extinction.

  • 2002
    American Forests conducts Freedom Trees, Patriot Trees and Memorial Trees to honor victims and heroes of 9/11.
  • 2009
    After a year of advocacy by American Forests, the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act to establish a federal emergency fund for the suppression of sever wildfires is signed into law. American Forests joins Oprah’s Angel Network to plant trees around Habitat for Humanity for those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • 2010
    American Forests joins the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) advocating for legislation relating to urban forestry and green infrastructure. American Forests throws its support behind President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative.
  • 2011
    American Forests throws its support behind Representative Matsui’s TREES Act that would support programs run by electric utilities to work with tree-planting nonprofits to use strategically planted shade trees in order to reduce residential energy demand.
  • 2012
    American Forests launches the Endangered Western Forests initiative – focusing, in its first stage, on the dangers facing the high-elevation whitebark pine of the Greater Yellowstone Area.
  • The first Community ReLeaf planting event took place is Asbury Park, N.J. with sponsor Bank of America Foundation
    The first Community ReLeaf planting event took place is Asbury Park, N.J. with sponsor Bank of America Foundation

    American Forests launches Community ReLeaf, a program dedicated to the assessment, restoration and monitoring of urban forests based on research and conversations with urban forest managers.

  • 2014
    American Forests creates the Big Tree Working Groups, convening a diverse array of experts to assist the program by addressing some of the tough questions inherent in crowning champion trees.
  • 2015
    American Forests plants 50 millionth Global ReLeaf tree and undertakes 1,000th Global ReLeaf project.
  • 2016
    American Forests launches the Urban Innovation Lab, an online community for urban forest practitioners.
  • 2020
    American Forests expands Community ReLeaf to 20 cities.
  • 2075
    American Forests celebrates its 200th Anniversary.