Last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a comprehensive report on how increased population and land use development may threaten woodlands and their numerous benefits in the next 50 years.
According to the report, where regions choose to locate new residential and commercial development in the coming decades could have a big impact on the health of privately-owned forests, which we rely on to help provide clean drinking water, wildlife habit and outdoor recreation, among other benefits.
Forested land also helps remove pollutants from the air and sequester the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
While the amount of land currently under development or with the potential to be developed remains very small as a percentage of total U.S. land, many of the areas slated for building are both close to existing urban areas and likely to intersect with forests.
The report does not include policy recommendations, but it does point to areas where elected leaders may want to pursue a different course that betters conserves finite resources.
Most decisions about where to build rest with local governments, but their choices are heavily influenced by federal transportation, energy and housing policy. For example, a transition to more renewable fuels would reduce harmful emissions that put a strain on forests. More transportation options would ease traffic congestion and reduce the need for new highway construction. And, practical and affordable housing in more centralized locations would reduce the need for some new development in the outskirts of urban areas.
Local leaders may also begin to transition priorities themselves as their constituents advocate for woodlands and recreation for quality-of-life purposes.
How we allocate our land resources means a lot for America’s forests. With this report, policymakers and citizens can continue the discussion on how to best balance growth and conservation.
When you tune in for the 2012 London Olympics starting tomorrow, keep an eye out for an advertisement from Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that features their 50-Million-Tree Pledge.
The pledge is an aggressive, multi-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service to plant 50 million trees in high-need national and state forests. Nearly seven million trees have been planted so far.
The newly-planted trees are crucial to protecting wildlife habitat, recreational benefits and clean water for millions of Americans.
Enterprise has been one of the Foundation’s stand-out corporate partners, and we look forward to continuing the relationship for decades to come.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the company’s hometown newspaper, reported on the ad buy this week, noting that the spot is slated to run from July 27 through August 12, including during closing ceremonies.
The full story includes an early viewing of the 60-second spot, which contains gorgeous footage of national forests. A shorter 30-second spot will also be in rotation. Learn more about the 50-Million Tree Pledge here.
U.S. Forest Service and fire officials have now contained about 10 percent of the fast-moving and far-reaching wildfire that has burned through hundreds of square miles, primarily in Colorado and New Mexico.
According to CNN, hundreds of residents ordered to evacuate their homes in the Fort Collins area will be able to return this week:
“We’re gaining,” said Bill Hahnenberg, the U.S. Forest Service’s commander for the team battling the High Park wildfire, which has burned 46,600 acres in northern Colorado.
The last two summers have seen record fires throughout the country. Texas had the worst wildfire season on record in 2011, and the High Park fire that remains burning in Colorado has quickly become the second largest in the state’s history. Extended drought and high temperatures are up throughout the southwestern United States, according to the Washington Post.
The strain of fire damage is a key subject of the Arbor Day Foundation newest public-service announcement on Replanting Our National Forests. The message? Our precious natural resources depend upon us – not just to replant for lost and damaged forests, but to preserve the land for future generations.
The immediate objective is to make sure our fellow Americans in Colorado, New Mexico and adjacent states are safe and able to return to normalcy. Looking forward, we must remain committed to doing our part to support the future health of our forests. We hope you’ll be a partner with us in that continued effort.