News from the world of Trees.
EAGLE SOARS TO NEW STATUS
Once near extinction, the American bald eagle is poised to soar off the federal Endangered Species List. President Clinton made the announcement in time for the 4th of July, citing recovery efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with numerous agencies, governments, universities, nonprofits, and individuals. Named America's national symbol in 1782, the eagle plummeted from a high then of 100,000 nesting pairs in the continental U.S. to a rock-bottom 417 pairs in 1963. The eagles ate DDT-laden fish; the chemicals then interfered with their ability to produce strong eggshells. Eggs often broke during incubation or failed to hatch. Today, the USFWS estimates the number of nesting pairs at 5,748.
AMERICAN FORESTS is planting trees in six Global ReLeaf sites that provide habitat for balds: 140,000 trees at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi; 25,750 trees at Little Red Creek burn site, Caspar, Wyoming; 406,490 trees at Pointe Remove Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas; 44,000 trees at Three Sisters Bald Eagle Winter Roost, California; 58,800 trees at Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, Kansas; 147,400 trees at Red River County, Texas.
Celebrate the return of this American treasure by planting trees at one of these sites. Call 800/545-TREE, visit www.americanforests.org, or write us; every dollar you donate helps restore habitat for these magnificent birds.
HUMANS MAKE FOREST BLUSH
New England's world-renowned quilted canopy of yellows, oranges, and russets is fast becoming a blanket of red.
Shifts in the ecology of eastern deciduous woodlands are triggering the change, according to a recent report in The New York Times. The aggressive proliferation of red maple (Acer rubrum) is blurring nature's palette.
Prior to the 20th century, red maple was confined to wet lowlands, but reds now are storming the uplands and running out long-dominant oaks. The extensive ecological systems that arose in the East under the oak shade reign are expected to alter to unknown degrees, as are the northeastern pine-hemlock forests.
Why the change? Human impact. The first suspect is sprawl-triggered fire suppression. Fire weeds out thin-barked red maple and forms the canopy gaps needed for oak seedlings to establish themselves. Without fire, red maple's whirligig samara seeds get an early springtime start and spread even fasten
The second culprit is forest disturbance, from fragmentation to clearing to road-building. Red maples are that rare breed of "broad generalists": They thrive under normally poor conditions and hybridize readily with closely related species. Rural and suburban communities also overplant the species as a shade tree, hastening their spread.
Timber industry officials are concerned by both the maples' growing prominence and their industry's role in hastening it. Red maple's low wood strength devalues the species as a timber tree. The industry is trying to adapt quickly to the change, researching new ways to capitalize on red maple.
On the other hand, red maple resilience may prove key to having a growing forest. Studies show red maples are more tolerant of acid rain and resistant to bug-borne diseases. It's unclear whether diminished diversity will contribute to overall higher levels of species loss or changes in ecosystem resilience.
Forest managers are considering controlled burnings to brake the rollover, but some see the red's march to the hilltops as inevitable. - Danielle Denenny
WHY TREES LIKED THE BERLIN WALL
The fall of the Berlin Wall apparently has meant the fall of a number of the capital city's trees, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.
Booming reconstruction efforts and congested traffic are taking their toll on old trees accustomed to the protection afforded by the hated Berlin Wall. Since it came down in 1989, reconstruction efforts have caused fluctuations in the water table, choking exhaust, and parking mishaps that result in bumps and scrapes to tree bark. Many of the city's oldest trees are struggling to survive on land that is either up for auction or being developed.
Now the Society for the Protection of German Forests and other environmental groups are trying to save these arboreal treasures. Armed with a $25,000 donation from the German Foundation for the Environment and the furniture industry, a group called the Beloved Old Trees Committee has begun trying to protect three 200-year-old beeches in Schlesischer Busch Park. The small park contains dozens of old trees that so far have escaped war bombs and firewood gatherers.
NOURISHING THE ENVIRONMENT
The Balance Bar Company in August introduced Balance Outdoor, a line of all-natural energy bars targeted at outdoor enthusiasts. To promote the product's eco-friendly image, the company is partnering with AMERICAN FORESTS to plant Global ReLeaf trees. For more information on Balance Bar products, please visit www.balance.com.
TAKE A BOW!
The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC) awarded AMERICAN FORESTS a competitive urban forestry grant for the project "Exploring Environmental Linkages Between Urban and Rural Communities," under the category "Creative and Innovative Projects."
This June, Forest Service grant monies and matching funds totaling more than $1.8 million were conferred to 15 of 94 proposed urban and community forestry projects nationally. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck says the grants will "improve our understanding of the value of community forests to people in the urban setting and build cooperation among all involved in the care of urban natural resources."
The National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council advises Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman on issues concerning the care and management of trees, forests, and natural resources in both urban and community settings.
TREES IN STORE
AMERICAN FORESTS will join the celebration when specialty retailer Eddie Bauer celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founder's birth in October.
The company will thank customers and commemorate the day by giving out close to 500,000 Global ReLeaf seedlings in its North American stores. The seedlings will also symbolize the outstanding effort that Eddie Bauer customers and associates have shown in sponsoring the planting of 2.5 million trees through the Eddie Bauer Global ReLeaf Tree Program. Eddie Bauer associates and community volunteers will dig in by planting urban trees in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, adding more trees to the company's 2.3 million total so far.
TREES: THE QUICKER PICKER UPPER?
Ever wonder how paper towels absorb all that liquid? A recent study says trees can do the same thing--but for pollutants.
Scientists from the University of Washington are designing trees to sponge up and convert dangerous chemicals to products as harmless as table salt. Milton Gordon, Lee Newman, and Stuart Strand head a team that successfully introduced a mammalian gene into poplar, tobacco, and koa DNA. The gene triggers the release of up to 10 times the base concentration of a naturally occurring enzyme that decomposes toxins, transforming ordinary trees into "superheroes" capable of tackling pollutants on a landscape scale.
The team has screened nearly a dozen trees for "superhero" status. But so far none have withstood the high pollutant levels of Superfund sites, areas identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as most toxic.
Phytoremediation--the way trees repair ecosystems contaminated by industrial chemicals--is fast becoming as popular as traditional "pump and treat" removal by machine and bacterial conversion. This alternative technology owes its existence to the public's fear of bacteria, Strand says.
"Nobody will complain about the revegetation of a contaminated field," Strand says. "That is the beauty of our using trees to pump out pollutants."
At an experimental field site in Tacoma, Washington, scientists are planting various trees in soil contaminated to mimic spill site conditions. Thus far, hybrid poplars have proven the most flexible workers, processing a wide range of contaminants across a variety of ecosystems. Researchers are now applying their knowledge to help with hazardous waste clean-up projects nationwide. - Danielle Denenny
FUNGUS THREATENS PINES WORLDWIDE
Californians have always admired the Monterey pines that tower over their coasts and hillsides. Now a deadly fungus threatens to eradicate them from their native range.
No one knows how pitch canker, a fungal disease native to the Southeast and Mexico, arrived in California. But since its discovery in 1986 in Santa Cruz and Alameda counties, the disease has spread to at least 15 coastal and nearby inland communities. Today, the only three remaining pure stands of native Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) are infected, and foresters say other species could be at risk.
"We don't have any cure for it," says Don Owen, co-chair of the Pine Pitch Canker Task Force. "And the ultimate effects are unknown. Whether it will cause a great deal of damage to other trees simply hasn't been seen yet."
Monterey pine is by far the most susceptible, with some areas showing infection rates between 80 and 90 percent, Owen says. That could spell disaster for the species the world over, which depend upon California's native Monterey pine stands for their genetic purity, says Dave Adams, a pitch canker expert from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"The native Monterey pine is the genetic resource for all radiata pine around the world," Adams says. "The fungus could have a tremendous effect commercially because people in those countries would like to renew their genetic stock and they can't."
Landowners should look for wilting and fading needles and resin oozing from infection sites. Another problem: bark beetles and other insects that "team up" with the fungus to spread the disease to other trees.
If not for the beetles "the disease would probably not have much of an impact on these pines. It's a happy thing for the fungus and not a happy thing for the trees-- and the bugs probably don't really care much one way or the other," Adams says. "But when the trees start disappearing, they will."
Editor's note: If you live outside an infected area and think your tree has pitch canker, contact your county agricultural commissioner's office or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (530/753-3448).
A HISTORIC SAVE
On a fall afternoon in 1997, Jeff Meyer, project director for AMERICAN FORESTS' Famous & Historic Trees, gathered red, ripe magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) seeds from a towering tree at The Hermitage in Tennessee. The tree had been standing guard over the final resting place of seventh president Andrew Jackson for more than 150 years.
The seeds Meyer collected that day at the Hermitage and from tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipfera) next door at Jackson's nephew's estate would be used to grow offspring for the Famous & Historic Trees' Presidents collection.
Six months later, the stately magnolia was gone, the victim--along with more than 1,200 other of The Hermitage's trees--of a tornado that hit the Nashville area on April 16, 1998. Many of the downed trees were historically significant: In addition to the magnolia, the destroyed trees included cedars that had lined the driveway since Jackson's days, a beech estimated at more than 300 years old, and Tennessee's largest tulip poplar, later determined to be 275 years old.
Was it good luck, great timing, or purely prophetic that the seeds had been collected the previous fall? "It's what we do every year," says Meyer, adding that it's not uncommon for these offspring trees to be the last of their line. "Historic trees succumb to old age and weather quite often. That makes them even more precious."
The Hermitage staff decided this past spring that it was time to bring the small offspring trees home. An April "Tree Plant Day" was attended by hundreds--including Jackson's descendants--who helped plant seedlings on the Hermitage grounds and bought others to plant at home.
While Tree Plant Day was a significant beginning, restoration will take years. A fund, aptly named "Replant the Past," has been established and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Hermitage seedling will aid that restoration work. Request a complimentary catalog of Famous & Historic Trees at 800/3208733 or visit www.americanforests.org. - Susan Corbett
WILDFIRES HELP SQUIRREL SURVIVAL
Widespread wildfire suppression is believed responsible for a decline in a species of northern Idaho ground squirrel (Spermophilus brunneus brunneus), which in turn has led to its listing as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Between 1984 and 1998, squirrel populations in Payette National Forest declined three-fold, leading biologists Paul Sherman and Thomas Gavin from Cornell University in New York and Eric Yensen from Albertson College of Idaho to suspect wildfire suppression, which allowed invasive weeds to replace the native bunchgrass the squirrels' bodies store up to live off during hibernation.
"At first we thought it might be the plague that was causing the populations to drop so quickly," Gavin says. "But with that you find vivid evidence--lots of bodies lying on the ground. These squirrels starved; they never came up after overwintering."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which listed the squirrel, began controlled burnings in 1997 to help bring back the Lick Creek Valley's native flora and fauna. It's still too soon to tell whether those efforts will thin the exotic vegetation and dense understory that blocks squirrel migration, mate-finding, and scavenging. In the meantime, the team will attempt to reestablish several populations by reseeding two sites with native bunchgrass.
"There is no time to mess around with this, waiting for more data to come in to confirm [the reestablishment's] success," Gavin says. "We have to make decisions about the land now for years down the line." - Danielle Denenny
STANDING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Declaring an urgent need for businesses and communities to pioneer sustainable growth, Vice President Al Gore recently announced 47 commitments to sustainability and requested individuals, businesses, and communities make 2,000 commitments toward a better quality of life by the year 2000. Those commitments include:
* A Center of Expertise for Urban Development and Livability to strengthen General Services Administration efforts to leverage real estate holdings in support of downtown revitalization. The Center would work on projects such as locating new federal buildings in downtown areas.
* Redoubled efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to elevate or acquire homes in high-risk flood plains, avoiding damage to property or people from recurring natural disasters and providing a solid, sustainable economic base.
* A Transportation Livability Initiative to improve community transportation decisionmaking, including development of a web site, tool kit, outline of transportation resources, showcase of success stories, meetings of regional working groups on livability, and increased collaboration with federal agencies on livability activities.
Gore also asked Congress to approve the Administration's Livable Communities Initiative, a measure that helps communities ease traffic congestion, preserve green space, and pursue healthy growth strategies. The initiative includes $700 million in new tax credits for Better America Bonds, which would give communities nearly $10 billion over a 5-year period for water quality, green space, and brown-field clean-ups. - Jessica Morrison
With a little help from nature, "Mendocino Tree," a 600- to 800-year-old coast redwood (Sequoia semper-virens) was recently crowned the world's tallest living thing.
The 367.5-foot behemoth in Ukiah, California's Montgomery Woods State Reserve was declared tallest of the tall by state park rangers and the San Francisco-based Save the Redwoods League after a winter storm knocked 10 feet off the height of the previous record holder in Redwood National Park in Del Norte County, California.
A team of Humboldt State researchers frst measured "Mendocino" in mid-March; the Guiness Book of World Records later videotaped and verified its size. Altnough tall, Medonsino fails to capture U.S. "biggest tree" honors. Those bragging rights belong to the General Sherman, a giant sequoia that stands 275 feet tall with a 998-inch circumference and a 107-foot crown spread, for a total of 1,300 points in AMERICAN FORESTS' National Register of Big Trees. A coast redwood in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park comes in for second-biggest honors at 313 feet tall, 867-inch circumference, and 101-foot crown spread, a total of 1,205 points.
Although Mendocino Tree's overall location is no secret, only a lucky few will be able to distinguish it from its lofty neighbors. The 1,300-acre reserve where it resides is the least-visited of Mendocino County's redwood preserves, and local citizens are taking steps to protect the tree in light of its newfound fame. To preserve the fragile area surrounding the giant, no plaque will mark Mendocino's unique status. In fact, some locals have removed park road signs as an extra safeguard to protect the tree for future generations. - Jessica Morrison
Gear up for our 125th anniversary next autumn; test your knowledge of AMERICAN FOREST history. Mail or fax (202/887-1075) your responses to Quiz c/o American Forests magazine or do the quiz online (www.americanforests.org). Stumped? Take your best guess; three winners will receive an Elvis or Johnny Appleseed tree from Famous & Historic Trees. Enter by September 30, please!
1. When (month and year) was the American Forestry Association (now AMERICAN FORESTS) founded? Bonus: Where?
2. Who was its first president? Hint: He coined the term "conservation."
3. Where was the first Global ReLeaf Forest?
4. Which endangered species did it help?
5. Who was the first female executive director of AMERICAN FORESTS?
6. Name two well known writers who have penned articles for this magazine.
7. Name at least 2 previous names for American Forests magazine.
8. What's going on in the picture at right? (Humorous answers are OK.)
9. Which of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's initiatives was first proposed in an editorial in American Forests magazine?
11. AMERICAN FORESTS donated the first living Christmas Tree to the nation under the administration of Calvin Coolidge. What was the species?
12. The Trail Riders of the Wilderness, an early horseback ecotourism program sponsored by AMERICAN FORESTS, debuted in what year? Bonus: They traveled to two national forests in which state?
13. Which AMERICAN FORESTS president founded Arbor Day?
14. AMERICAN FORESTS maintains the only listing of the largest trees in the nation. Name it and when was it first issued?
15. What four trees have been on the list since its inception?
16. Name three issues AMERICAN FORESTS has testified about in the last 30 years.
17. Which of the following celebrities had a relationship with AMERICAN FORESTS? Jay "Ding" Darling; Lady Bird Johnson; Mrs. Henry Ford; Ed Deed (of Mark Trail fame); Lowell Thomas; Anson Goodyear; Maurice Goddard; Henry Wallace.
18. Who were the Dixie Crusaders?
Find the answers online or send an SASE for a fact sheet.
2 FOR CHESAPEAKE TREES
Thanks to the weekly New Bay Times, which recently raised $8,400 for a new Chesapeake Bay-area Global ReLeaf Forest. Collaborate on solutions to forest fragmentation at a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, November 17-19. For info: email@example.com.
Every time a Wells Fargo customer uses an ATM card to retrieve account information for a designated time period, Wells Fargo will donate funds to AMERICAN FORESTS' Global ReLeaf campaign. The promotion, at 1,400 ATM sites throughout the West, includes posters promoting the program and take-one brochures. For more about Wells Fargo, visit www.wellsfargo.com.
COMMUNITIES TESTIFY BEFORE SENATE
On June 30 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management held a general oversight hearing on US Forest Service Economic Action Programs (EAP). The goal: to assess the impact of EAPs during their first 10 years and determine their future role.
EAPs, known as Rural Community Assistance, help rural communities with community-based planning, job and leadership skill-building, small business development, and environmental and social improvements. The programs provide financial and technical assistance to more than 2,800 rural communities dependent on forest resources.
The hearing was held in response to New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman's keen interest in EAPs and similar programs that recognize the inextricable link between forests and communities. AMERICAN FORESTS and the National Network of Forest Practitioners worked with Committee members to ensure the hearing included local voices. Hearing witnesses represented the Zuni tribe, Redwood Community Action Agency of California, Federal Lands Programs, wood manufacturers, a rural community action group, and quasigovernmental economic development organizations.
Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho facilitated a roundtable discussion with Forest Service field personnel that featured an open discussion of the strengths and challenges of EAP implementation.
"Some of the nation's worst economic distress and much of its deepest rural poverty occurs in communities surrounded by magnificent forests," said witness Michael Rains, director of the Northeastern Area Forest Service. "The wealth of the natural resources is often not reflected in healthy, stable, vibrant, and resilient communities that benefit from the forests."
Senators Craig, Bingaman, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, and congressional staffers attended, as well as Forest Service officials Rains and Steve Satterfield, deputy chief of State and Private Forestry, and field staff.
Sen. Craig applauded the EAP partners' attention to three key principles of strong programs--economic efficiency, sustainable productivity, and accountability. He pressed Congress to broaden the expectations for and duties of the Forest Service in light of the success of these programs. Calling for heightened awareness in Congress of the existence and contributions of EAPs to the national economy, Sen. Domenici praised hearing organizers and participants for bringing together diverse interest groups "to talk as friends instead of opponents in combative lawsuits."
Community groups gave the Forest Service high marks for its work on EAPs. "The Forest Service is listening to local desires and is capable of assisting, through EAPs," said Bob Moore of Catron County Citizens Group of New Mexico.
Zurich Kemper Life will plant Global ReLeaf trees for the Kemper Advantage retirement annuity clients who sign up for a new, alternative electronic version of their annual prospectus, annual reports, and other financial statements. Those clients will also receive a personalized Global ReLeaf certificate.
NEWS OF NOTE
* The Brazilian rainforest is being destroyed twice as quickly as previously thought, according to new research. Ecologist Daniel Nepstad of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts conducted studies with aircraft and logging records and found that many areas that appeared forested on satellite images had actually been destroyed by logging and burning, reported Nature. As much as 6,000 square miles has been damaged each year in addition to acreage listed by the Brazilian government.
* California Governor Gray Davis recently announced a $3.1 million appropriation to the state urban forestry budget and a new initiative to plant and maintain trees, "Trees for the Millennium." This action gives tree planting a $2.1 million boost over last year's budget and is the first new state aid for urban forests in more, than a decade. The money will be dispersed in matching grants to cities, counties, and citizen groups.
* Loomis Forest Fund of Okanogan, Washington, recently got a boost after an anonymous donor gave several million dollars to help it reach a goal of raising $13 million by July 1 to preserve 25,000 acres of state land. The group seeks to save Loomis Forest, home to grizzly bear and the Canada lynx. It argues the state would gain more from a transfer than from selling logging rights on the land.
* Asia, South America, Africa, and the former Soviet Union lose 2.5 forested acres for every 50 acres preserved in North America and Europe, a recent study shows. Researchers Brent Sohngen, Robert Mendelsohn, and Roger Sedjo studied how worldwide timber sales might affect the conservation of forests across the globe between 1995 and 2135. Set-asides will raise world timber prices by I to 2 percent while increasing timber harvests in the rest of the world by 1 percent, particularly in tropical areas, they found.
* A federal court has denied the request of a "wise-use group" to clearcut half the trees in Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest. The Coalition for Sustainable Resources, a group of ranchers, farmers, and water-users, said the culling would protect endangered species by raising the regional water table. The judge declared the suit a "sham" and said the group's primary motive was to sell water.
* Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Delaware Governor Thomas Carper signed the Delaware Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. This voluntary federal-state land retirement program will assist farmers in planting streamside vegetation and forest buffers, combating polluted runoff, and improving habitat on cropland and marginal pastureland. USDA will pay up to $8 million of the total cost for the restoration, revegetation, and maintenance of 6,000 acres. with Delaware contributing the balance.
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|Date:||Sep 22, 1999|
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