Trees and forests form a major portion of the green infrastructure of this country. Actively and sustainably managed forests bolster local economies, improve human health, and bring communities closer together. Trees and forests filter our air and water, serve as places for recreation, provide habitat for wildlife, and produce wood products and job opportunities.
Healthy forests do not happen by chance and require investments of dollars, time and expertise. State forestry agencies and their partners including the USDA Forest Service are dedicated to working together to achieve national-level conservation and economic goals that are outlined in the state strategies and assessments, collectively referred to as the Forest Action Plans.
The Forest Action Plans are a strategic roadmap for trees and forests and they help direct limited resources to priority areas where they are needed most. These documents offer proactive strategies to conserve, protect and enhance the trees and forests upon which we all depend.
The Forest Action Plans were completed in 2010 and have been implemented for more than five years. The 2016 State and Private Forestry report illustrates how these documents have helped states and their partners achieve national conservation priorities for America’s forests.
The report, funded in part by the USDA Forest Service with an analysis conducted by Dovetail Partners, illustrates just a few of the accomplishments, new initiatives, and on-the-ground impacts that are a result of more than five years of Forest Action Plan implementation. More than 50 new documents totaling more than 1,000 pages of information were reviewed to identify key accomplishments and emerging trends.
Some of the key themes and topics that the report covers are:
- Technology, Inventory and Markets
- Wildfire and the Wildland-Urban Interface
- Forest Health
- Urban and Community Forests
- Landscape-Scale Partnerships Across Boundaries
- Ecosystem Services
The following are key examples of the types of successes from 2010-2015 that are included in the report:
- Topic: Grow forest markets, biomass and other wood products
- California: The California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) has provided $17.8 million for urban forestry in California for fiscal year 2014-15. This is more than double what was received in any previous year from any funding source. Created from cap and trade proceeds, the GGRF has also provided support for reforestation, fuels management and biomass utilization. A previously awarded project in central Humboldt County completed treatment on over 300 acres and generated 5,000 dry tons of biomass.
- Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s timber sales from state lands totaled more than $11.7 million in 2014, up 25 percent from only two years before in 2012. The record numbers highlight the value of the timber that can be sustainably harvested from state lands while also indicating the need for continued forest management to maintain healthy and diverse wildlife populations, protect key watersheds, and provide opportunities for public recreation.
- Topic: Restore fire-adapted lands and reduce the risk of wildfire impacts
- Texas: Over the past five years, the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) developed the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (TxWRAP), a web-based GIS application that allows local governments and the public to identify and map wildfire risk throughout the state. TFS uses information and reports from TxWRAP to develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs). During CWPP development, TFS mitigation specialists identify potential treatment areas on public lands where critical fuels reduction projects could be performed (by TFS mitigation staff and wildland firefighters) to help improve community protection and generate enthusiasm for additional, locally-led efforts.
- Minnesota: The 15th Annual Wildfire Academy was held in 2015 with over 950 participants. The Incident Management Team worked with over 30 attendees from as far away as Ohio and North Carolina. The week of training featured 27 nationally certified courses in wildland fire planning, operations, logistics, finance, dispatch and leadership. The Academy was hosted by Itasca Community College and jointly managed by Advanced Minnesota and the Minnesota Incident Command System. Twenty-eight fire departments were represented in the student body along with federal agencies, tribal entities, state governments, counties, conservation organizations, and other firefighters.
- Montana and Idaho: With assistance from National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy funds, adjacent Idaho and Montana communities have collaborated to create a coordinated strategy that mitigates risk to the area. To date, four demonstration sites have been created to highlight fuel reduction work around homes, Island Park has been accepted into the National Fire Adapted Communities Network, 28 educational workshops have been held, and 19,235 acres have been treated through thinning, hazardous fuel reduction, noxious weed control and planting. An additional 475,536 acres have also been inventoried and assessed to guide future work.
- Topic: Wildlife Habitat Conservation
- Vermont: As part of a long term goal of integrating timber and songbird habitat management, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and its key partners established the Foresters for the Birds initiative in 2008. The project included forester trainings, habitat assessments, and demonstration harvest as well as workshops. Over 200 foresters have participated in trainings, collectively managing more than one million acres. More than 1,000 people have attended tours. At least nine states are currently implementing Foresters for the Birds programs.
- Topic: Reduce Threats from Insects and Disease
- American Samoa: American Samoa is located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,500 miles south of Hawaii. The spread of exotic invasive plants is an enormous threat to the territory’s native rainforest. In 2012, a pilot mapping project was conducted and the use of geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing technology improved the forestry team’s ability to identify locations of invasive species.
- Arizona: The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management partners with the USDA Forest Service to survey millions of acres of Arizona’s forestland from the air. Aerial detection surveys provide land managers and the public with information about landscape-level forest and woodland health conditions. Experts survey one to three million acres annually, and USDA Forest Service personnel survey an additional six to eight million acres of Arizona forest land. When forest health issues were identified, Forest Health staff offer this information to land managers locally. Countrywide data can also be accessed online, helping local land managers make more informed decisions.
- Mississippi: The Mississippi Forestry Commission is engaged in addressing southern pine beetle activity. Through annual aerial flights over 316 spots have been detected on private lands since 2010 and the southern pine beetle thinning efforts have treated 18,309 acres and provided 40 outreach programs. The “Don’t Move Firewood” campaign has been promoted widely in the state to help address the threat of invasive species. Efforts with Kudzu control have also treated 2,121 acres, assisting 126 private landowners. The Cogongrass program began in 2010 and has assisted 2,134 landowners on 4,175 acres with a total of 29,261 spots treated.
- Topic: Protect Water Quality and Quantity
- New York: With the help of volunteers, New York’s “Trees for Tribs” program restored thousands of feet of streamside buffer by planting trees drawn from the Saratoga State Tree Nursery’s native stock. The Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Lands and Forests has worked to expand the program statewide and is currently active in the Hudson River Estuary, Mohawk River, Susquehanna River, Genesee River, and Lake Champlain watersheds.
- Tennessee: The Tennessee Division of Forestry partnered with Nashville metro government and local non-profit organizations to implement a “Clean Water from Urban Forests” project that planted native trees on public and private properties along streams in eight priority watersheds. The project involved 2,800 volunteers, who spent 7,700 hours in planting 28,000 trees on 30,400 feet of buffer. In a separate riparian forest buffer initiative led by the National Resources Conservation Service, 30,004 acres were planted with trees under the Wetlands Restoration Program from 2010-2014.
- Topic: Improve Tree Canopy in Urban and Community Forests
- Pennsylvania: Through the public-private partnership TreeVitalize, Pennsylvania has worked to restore and build capacity for urban tree cover, and educate citizens. In 2013, TreeVitalize became available to all counties. TreeVitalize has planted over 400,000 trees through the help of many partners and community volunteers. More than 6,000 citizens have also become TreeTenders® and in the process received extensive training and awareness building related to the importance of urban trees along with the tools to organize tree planting and maintenance projects in their own neighborhoods.
- West Virginia: Over the past five years, the Mountaineer Treeways program involved 100 communities and volunteer organizations and resulted in the planting of 10,858 trees.
- Topic: Educate the Public
- Ohio: Project Learning Tree (PLT) in Ohio is sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. PLT-Ohio developed an educational poster set showcasing six priority forest issues by using ideas generated in the professional development education workshops, with the help of an Ohio EPA Environmental Education Fund grant. The posters have been used by over 1,000 youth leaders and educators as well as natural resource professionals throughout the state.
- 2016 State & Private Forestry Report [PDF]
- Read the press release
- Visit ForestActionPlans.org to learn what’s happening on the ground in your state.
- Talking Points:
- Healthy forests do not happen by chance and require investments of dollars, time and expertise. Visit ForestActionPlans.org for more information.
- Investing in trees and forests is good for people, jobs and communities, both now and into the future. Visit ForestActionPlans.org to learn more.
- Relevant hashtags: #forestactionplans, #healthyforests, #forestry