By Michelle Werts

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo.
Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo. Credit: khasut/Flickr

If you’re a regular reader here on Loose Leaf, you know that our forests and ecosystems, while very good self-regulators, sometimes need a helping hand — and a helping hand is what they’re going to get en masse tomorrow.

Tomorrow is National Public Lands Day, the largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands each year. On this, the 20th anniversary of the event, more than 2,000 projects are registered across the country. And it just so happens that American Forests is going to be out there doing our part, too.

First, we’re co-hosting a volunteer tree planting in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. This event is taking volunteers to the Moccasin Basin area to plant 1,000 whitebark pine seedlings in an area damaged by the Hardscrabble Fire. This project is part of both our Endangered Western Forests initiative, which is working to research, restore and protect whitebark pine in the Mountain West, and our Global ReLeaf forest restoration program. This year, we’re planting 11,000 whitebark pine in Bridger-Teton National Forest to help restore the keystone species to the landscape.

Asbury Park, N.J.
Asbury Park, N.J., August 2013. Credit: Melinda Housholder/American Forests

On the East Coast, we’re going to be at work in New Jersey’s Asbury Park, where we’re planting 40 trees along streets and other lands in the 1.6-square-mile community. The planting is part of our Community ReLeaf program, which is dedicated to assessment, restoration and education about urban forests. This planting is just the first of many restoration activities that will occur in Asbury Park this year as part of Community ReLeaf.

As you can tell from the diversity of our two events, public lands encompass a major part of our lives — from urban oases to national forests, from local gardens to wildlife refuges, from state to national parks. And days like tomorrow are important to maintaining their health and vitality. Days like tomorrow are the days we at American Forests love the most, too: The days we all come together to celebrate the natural world.

Today, sadly, marks the end of my adventure as co-editor of Loose Leaf and regular blogger, as I am moving onto new horizons. I have greatly enjoyed getting to discuss a variety of environmental topics with our readers over the last two years, and I am comforted knowing that I’m leaving you all in the capable hands of our current blogging team. Best wishes, Michelle