TPL Joins USFS Centennial Celebration
WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/24/2005 – Members of Congress, U.S. Forest Service Leadership, the Trust for Public Land and other key members of the conservation community, Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl all renewed their commitment to our National Forests today at a Forest Service Centennial event, by becoming Friends of the Forests (www.becomeafriend.org) and encouraging all Americans to become engaged in protecting and conserving the Nation’s forests and grasslands. The event recognized the agency’s first 100 years of service and outlined the agency’s progress as it focuses on the next 100 years.
The National Forest Foundation today brought together several groups to discuss the four threats identified by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth as having the greatest impact on the health of our Nation’s forests and grasslands: fire and fuels, invasive species, loss of open space and unmanaged recreation. Since first announcing these threats on Earth Day in 2003, the Forest Service and key partners throughout the conservation community have made strides in addressing these issues.
“Today’s event clearly demonstrated how collaboration is the most important part of conserving our National Forests,” said Bill Possiel, president of the National Forest Foundation. “Several members of the conservation community came together to recognize the Forest Service’s 100th year and to celebrate the power of collaboration.”
Marshal Case from the American Chestnut Foundation discussed how the foundation’s partnership with the Forest Service has been locating surviving American chestnut trees, pollinating the flowers, harvesting the nuts and establishing tree orchards. This project is helping address the problem of Asian fungus, an invasive species that devastated 4 billion chestnut trees.
Another of the chief’s threats, loss of open space, was addressed by Kathy DeCoster from the Trust for Public Land.
“The Forest Legacy Program recently achieved a milestone of having protected over 1 million acres of forestland since 1993,” said DeCoster. “The Trust for Public Land has assisted with more than one-third that amount and through voluntary conservation easements and fee acquisitions, these lands continue to provide recreation, clean water and wildlife.”
Lori Davis from Tread Lightly! detailed how the Forest Service created the organization specifically to address the issue of unmanaged recreation. Tread Lightly! uses education and stewardship to empower individuals to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Specifically, the organization has created Tread Trainer, a train-the-trainer program which trains government employees, safety instructors, organization leaders and outdoor enthusiasts to train others about responsible recreation practices.
Diane Snyder from Wallowa Resources discussed local action in Wallowa County, Oregon dealing with fire and fuels. Snyder gave a historical perspective about how the relationship between private foresters and the U.S. Forest Service has evolved in recent years and how Wallowa Resources is working collaboratively with the Forest Service to combat fires in Wallowa County.
The U.S. Forest Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary on July 1, 2005. On this date 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service and appointed Gifford Pinchot as its first Chief. The agency was given a unique mission: to sustain healthy, diverse, and productive forests and grasslands for present and future generations. At its founding, the agency was responsible for 63 million acres of forests that fell into the National Forest System.
Today, the Forest Service encompasses nearly 192 million acres of mountains, grasslands, rivers and wilderness resources that sustain 80 percent of the nation’s freshwater supply and hosts 214 million recreational visits each year. While the size and scope of the US Forest Service have expanded greatly since Pinchot was Chief, the fundamental mission has never changed – to protect and conserve the nation’s forests for the use of its citizens. You are invited to get involved with the care of the Nation’s forests through the Friends of the Forest program, for more information please visit, www.becomeafriend.org.
The National Forest Foundation, chartered by Congress, engages America in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 192-million-acre National Forest System, and administers private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres in 45 states, including helping the USFS protect more than 520,000 acres and consolidate critical forest holdings – on the urban edge, in wilderness areas, along lakes and streams, and within view of the many millions who use Forest Service and privately owned lands for recreation.