It’s with you on every camping trip and outdoor adventure, but it doesn’t take up any room in your pack, RV, or tent. It’s been featured in every nature selfie, camping advertisement and video from the great outdoors – even though you can’t exactly see it. Who is this invisible yet essential partner? It’s the crisp, clean air that we enjoy whenever we’re in or near healthy forest ecosystems! Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts know that healthy forests are important to every outdoor enthusiast. Through a new agreement with American Forests, Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts has committed to plant 100,000 trees in key locations, including the American Southeast and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges in Texas.

Established barely a decade after the Civil War, American Forests is the oldest national conservation organization in the country. Since its founding in 1875, American Forests has proudly fought to protect the health of our forest ecosystems against irresponsible development and degradation. 

The reforestation projects are conducted by local partners and American Forests’ American ReLeaf program, a landscape-scale restoration program driven by one unifying goal: to restore North America’s native forest landscapes to full health and long-term resilience. Healthy forests are essential to people and wildlife. They filter our air and water, provide jobs and help mitigate climate change. By working with American Forests, Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts can help maintain biodiversity across the company’s 8,000 forested acres and beyond. 

USFWS Midwest via Flickr

Over the nearly century and a half that American Forests has been in action, they have achieved major milestones in forest conservation and regrowth, job creation, and public education:

Originated the ideas for a national forest system and the U.S. Forest Service.

Created the first conservation periodical in the nation.

Successfully advocated for the expansion of national forests in the eastern U.S.

Worked alongside President Franklin Roosevelt to create the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Funded more than 1,000 forest restoration projects in every state in the nation and planted more than 65 million trees across the globe. 

Helped launch and co-leads the U.S. chapter of 1t.org, a global community committed to conserving, restoring and growing 1 trillion trees by 2030.

American Forests estimates that the trees planted as part of this comminment will capture, store, and filter 12,732,063 gallons of water a year – enough to fill roughly 19 Olympic swimming pools! Clean water is essential not just for your canteen, but also for the health of wildlife, our rivers and streams, and plantlife within and outside our forests. By the time they’re 50-years-old, these trees will have stored approximately 20,950 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in their roots, stems, and trunks. That’s roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions from energy use in 2,523 American homes.

The relationship with American Forests doesn’t start and stop with replanting, however. American Forests, Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts will also be ensuring that forests have what they need to survive and thrive in a changing climate. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas – a biodiversity hotspot that’s home to threatened and endangered species such as the ocelot – seedlings with protective tubes that shield the young plants from hot sun and drying winds will be planted. Elsewhere in the U.S. (e.g., California, the Great Lakes, Southeast, Rockies, and Cascades) support from this agreement will help to collect seed for future forests, control invasive weeds at planting sites, and give trees the follow-up care they need to grow.

“Forest sustainability is much more than just tree planting,” said Eric Sprague, Vice President of Forest Restoration at American Forests. “To grow and maintain healthy forests, we need a mix of approaches that includes tree planting as well as forest conservation, quality science and data gathering, and developing robust community networks. Through relationships like this one, American Forests is bringing folks together to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing our forests and climate today.”

To learn more about American Forests and how you can help protect our public and private forest lands, visit americanforests.org. Keep an eye out for engagement opportunities on your next outdoor adventure and get to know the trees responsible for the crisp, clean air at your favorite campground or outdoor destinations!