Plant a tree for a healthy forest

The U.S. Forest Service is promoting its Plant-A-Tree program.

For a minimum donation of $10, five seedlings will be reserved to reforest a burned area on the San Juan National Forest. The donor will also receive a certificate.

The cost of growing a seedling in a nursery and planting it is $2 per tree.

“Some burned areas would reforest naturally through aspen or natural conifer regeneration, but on southeast to southwest facing slopes and harsher environments, regeneration may take centuries,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, forester at Columbine Ranger District. “We focus tree planting in areas where large-scale stand replacement fires have occurred outside of wilderness areas, and where there is virtually no probability that the area will reforest on its own in the next fifty to one hundred years.”

The trees will be planted in burned areas on the San Juan National Forest where current reforestation projects are taking place — Missionary Ridge, the Vallecito area and the Narraguinup area near Dolores.

As the seedlings grow into trees, they will provide future habitat for Canadian lynx, boreal owl, Abert’s squirrel and Merriam’s turkey. In addition, reforestation decreases soil erosion, helps with snow retention in spring and helps sequester carbon and provide oxygen.

The Plant-A-Tree program was established by the USFS in 1983 with the intent of giving donors a way to memorialize loved ones or commemorate special events in a way that also helps the environment.

All contributions to this program qualify as charitable deductions under section 170(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code.

Donations by cash, check or credit card can be made in person at San Juan National Forest offices. Credit card donations can also be made over the phone. Checks can be mailed to San Juan National Forest, Plant-A-Tree Coordinator, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301. Make checks payable to USDA Forest Service with “Plant-A-Tree, San Juan National Forest” noted in the memo portion of the check.

This story was posted on November 29, 2012.