California is famous for its breathtaking forests, home to the biggest and oldest trees on the planet. But these iconic landscapes are under threat. As climate change heats up and dries out the state, vast numbers of trees are lost each year to drought, wildfires and pests. In 2020 alone, wildfires burned 4 million acres in California, the most since record-keeping began. These climate extremes are exacerbated by a century-long legacy of forest mismanagement, which has left the state’s forests sickly and overcrowded.
American Forests is tackling these urgent issues. We lead research, partnerships and climate-smart reforestation efforts to restore and conserve healthy forests across the state. Over the last 30 years, American Forests has carried out more than 145 reforestation projects in California and has planted more than 8.4 million trees. We work to reforest the burn scar of the Camp Fire — which leveled the town of Paradise in 2018 — as well as burn scars in Eldorado National Forest, the San Bernardino Mountains and many other areas.
Our work is urgent. Keeping these landscapes forested is critical for water, wildlife, jobs and the climate. California’s forests supply over 60% of the state’s water, while forests in the Sierra Nevada alone hold approximately 420 million tons of carbon — roughly equivalent to the state’s total annual carbon emissions. Forested landscapes, such as Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, are major players in California’s massive outdoor recreation industry, which brings in $6.2 billion in tax revenue each year. These stunning natural areas also provide invaluable habitat for elk, mountain lions, Pacific fishers and other iconic wildlife.