While 2008 was marked as a year of uncertainty in our nation’s capital thanks in large part to the Great Recession, one thing was certain — the environment can’t always wait, and there was plenty of restoration work to be done!

In 2008, American Forests partnered with Timberland to plant 331 urban trees at the Boston Nature Center in Massachusetts. Located in the city’s Mattapan neighborhood on the former Boston State Hospital site, the Nature Center is a much-needed reprieve from city life. As such, this project worked to restore former over-development in one of the city’s treasured green spaces. The Center is crucial in fostering environmental education and appreciation by offering affordable, sliding-scale admission into this local sanctuary so that all of the city’s residents, regardless of income, may enjoy time in nature. In addition, the Center offers two miles of trails, and is home to more than 40 species of butterflies and 150 species of birds — proving that even if you live in a city, you don’t have to go far to view some wild critters!

As we all know, there are numerous other benefits to urban tree-planting projects such as reducing stormwater runoff, purifying the air and water, reducing noise pollution and the urban heat island effect, storing carbon dioxide, and minimizing energy use as they cool nearby homes. All of these benefits can equate to millions of dollars for cities each year — and was there ever a year in recent U.S. history in need of money being saved more than in 2008?

The project itself also fostered environmental stewardship on multiple levels, as American Forests and Timberland engaged more than 200 volunteers for this vital effort. Among the attendees was one very special guest — former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the longest-serving mayor of the city.

But our urban volunteer work didn’t stop there in 2008. Want to learn more? Read about our second part to the Dig It project in Los Angeles.