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Planting yesterday in tomorrow's citizens.

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What's a Historic Forest? Well, let's take a walk around and find out.

Here's the visitor's center, but it's such a nice day, maybe you and the kids would rather stay outdoors for a while. How bout a stroll on a nature trail? Let's see if we can find your family's tree.

"Hey, Mom, took at this sign. It says this tree is the direct descendant of the sycamore where George Washington met with his officers during the battle of White Plains in New York."

Beyond the oak is an offspring of the champion white pine-biggest of its species in the U.S.

Farther along we come to three young cottonwoods. These saplings carry the gene line of the grove where Lewis and Clark and their band of buckskin-clad explorers met with a group of friendly Indians on the Montana prairie, the uncharted peaks of the Rockies glistening white in the distance. The whole story is told on a plaque near the saplings.

"The beauty of it, you know, " says a ranger who happens along just as we finish the self-guiding nature trail, "is that you don't have to go all the way to New York or Montana to see these historic trees and learn about the story, they have to tell. "

"And we helped it happen, " your oldest pipes up proudly. "My parents bought one of those cottonwoods -to help AFA's Global ReLeaf campaign to reforest America-"and someday I'M gonna bring my kids here. And my grandkids. "

"By then," says the ranger, "your cottonwood will be well on its waN, to being as big as its parent tree. And all the time it was growing, it was helping keep our planet healthy for your children and grandchildren. "

The new America's Historic Forests idea seems bound to capture the hearts and imagination of Americans by providing an innovative new learning experience centered around history and environmental awareness.When completed, the forests will be an educational resource used by millions of Americans into the next century and beyond.

Planted on reclaimed farmland that is no longer productive, the Historic Forests will be crisscrossed with trail systems and dotted with amenity areas designed by leading landscape architects. As model reforestation projects, the forests will be planned and the trees planted using the very best technical know-how to ensure biological diversity, topnotch wildlife habitat, forest health, and water-resource conservation.

Each forest will contain a state-of-the-art media center so that visitors can learn about American history, the environmental benefits of trees, the many uses for wood, and the economic benefits of sound forest management.

How is it all being done?

The American Forestry Association has been building the foundation for the Historic Forests for many years. In 1940-when AFA was celebrating its 65th year-the association introduced a National Register of Big Trees to identify and protect the champion trees of every species native to the United States. Today this program remains one of AFA's most popular grassroots campaigns.

In 1976, AFA published a book titled Famous and Historic Trees and a few years later began collecting seeds from these trees for groves to commemorate the nation's Bicentennial.

The America's Historic Forests program builds on these important accomplishments, as well as drawing inspiration from AFA's three-year-old Global ReLeaf campaign to offset global warming and improve living conditions by planting more and better trees.

Today, in cooperation with The Classic Tree Nursery (see "The Seed Gatherers" on page 39), AFA is ready to break ground for the first two Historic Forests, one in the North and one in the South. Each will contain more than 1,000 acres reforested with famous trees.

The Classic Tree Nursery will provide a full-time management staff for maintenance and interpretive programs. A lifetime endowment with each forest will ensure long-term viability. AFA is working closely with groups like The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and land-conservation organizations to acquire the necessary land, and we are forming strong partnerships with local groups and state agencies to take over responsibility for operation and management. Each tree planted will be sponsored by an individual. Major corporations also have a role to play. Sponsorship opportunities range from underwriting the costs of building the visitor centers to donating tree groves in communities (see "Historic Groves" on this page) to spreading the message of America's Historic Forests and Global ReLeaf to their customers and employees.

The Historic Forests and Historic Groves will provide teachers with a new way to capture the imaginations of students. We believe that teaching American history through trees will help make it real for millions of children. Historians, educators, and film producers are already at work researching historic trees, preparing curriculum guides, and designing interactive videos for use in the schools and communities that will have Historic Groves.

Over the past 500 years, trees have witnessed the landmarks of American history. They have been planted by-and in the name of-famous persons. They maintain watch on the hallowed battlefields of the Revolution and Civil War. They shade the birthplaces and final resting places of such great Americans as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B.Anthony, and Albert Einstein. The story of virtually every important event of our history-from the discovery of the New World through the inauguration of President George Herbert Walker Bush-can be told through historic trees.

Every citizen who joins in the America's Historic Forests program will have a strong personal impact on our natural and historical heritage. Now you and your family have a choice-for your vacation you can go to an amusement park and ride the rollercoaster or you can go to America's Historic Forests to visit the site where your historic tree is planted.

Historic Groves

Mini-versions of America's Historic Forests called Historic Groves will be planted in thousands of communities around the country. These local groves and arboreta of historic trees will become educational and environmental assets for each community that participates.

Historic Groves provide the many Global ReLeaf Coalition organizations around the country with a way to plant significant community-improvement projects. Twenty percent of the cost of every tree planted in the Historic Forests will go to support Global ReLeaf Coalition organizations or to the Global ReLeaf Fund to pay for local projects for planting historic trees.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus; America's Historic Forests program
Author:Crouse, Richard J.
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:1043
Previous Article:The can't-win catalpa.
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