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Growth of the American Forests Project

How It Started

In 2021, Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts began collaborating with American Forests, the oldest conservation organization in the United States, in their efforts to create healthy forests from coast to coast. The goal, over a period of three years, was to plant 100,000 trees as part of their Resilient Forests program. Specifically, the trees were to be planted in areas that had been identified as those in need of climate-smart reforesting. Those areas included the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Northern Rockies, the Great Lakes region, as well as areas in the Southeast. It made perfect sense for us to jump on board with this task and dig in to help. After all, with our business rooted in outdoor recreation, and the woodlands being so conducive to a fabulous camping experience, helping to save our forests was a meaningful concept to us. And by the way, a byproduct of the reforesting is not only carbon sequestration which helps combat climate change, but also ensuring the habitats for so many threatened and endangered species remain intact. For example, in the Southeast, these reforesting efforts affect the habitats for gopher tortoises, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and indigo snakes, while reforesting in the Northern Rockies helps the Grizzly bears, red squirrels, and golden-mantled ground squirrels.

How It’s Going

In January 2022, 22,500 trees were planted in Florida. Following that huge planting effort, another 5,000 trees were planted in Texas over a two-month period with another 2,500 planted in March in California. 

The trees planted in Florida were longleaf pines, which are important to the gopher tortoise as they burrow in the needles of this pine tree. The gopher tortoise has inhabited southern forestlands for more than 60 million years! However, as deforestation occurred, these tortoises were listed as vulnerable, which ultimately has a real domino effect in the animal world. The burrows created by the gopher tortoises within the pine needles are used by more than 360 other species for shelter, so the importance of helping to save their habitat results in helping so many more critters. 

Given the spate of forest fires in recent years, and the resulting devastation to our woodlands and forestlands, the following is good to note about the fire-resistant trees that were planted in California as part of these efforts. These trees have:

• Widely spaced branches and an open crown, so flames have a harder time spreading in the tree canopy

• Fire-resistant needles with high moisture content

• High branches so fire can’t climb into the crown of the tree

• Thick, inflammable bark that insulates the tree from heat

Some even have the ability to resprout from their roots after a fire, even when the above-ground parts of the tree have burned, and others have evolved seeds that spread and grow especially well in the aftermath of a fire.

As the reforesting efforts continue, we will continue to update you as more trees are planted, and more habitats are saved. In the meantime, appreciate our great forests when you visit, treat them with care, and make sure you leave them as you found them!

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