OPERATION APPLESEED SPRING UPDATE:
ON THE ROAD TO OVER 1 MILLION TREES!
OPERATION APPLESEED ON COURSE TO PLANT OVER 1 MILLION TREES
The Worthy Garden Club's efforts to plant one million trees is back on track! After over two years of delay due to Covid, the work to partner with Federal agencies and private land owners to get over a million trees in the ground is finally moving forward again. It's nice to be back!
We're currently working with the new Forest Silviculturalist on the Deschtues National Forest to identify priority areas for planting in the spring of 2023, and on projects that can be completed by volunteer work groups working with the Worthy Garden Club. We're also resurrecting contacts with the Willamette National Forest and expanding into privately owned forested areas in eastern Oregon to reestablish functional habitats and increase biodiversity in those endangered ecosystems.
Keep your eye on this site for future updates as we get going again!
THE MISSION, Revisited
After several years of severe wildfire activity, many of our mature forests have been altered for years -- probably centuries. Natural regeneration of our forests is one method of reforesting an area, but active planting can help speed up the process of growing a new forest. We know the loss of forests by fire can have a myriad of effects, both negative and positive, but the importance of those forests in biodiversity, habitat values, filtering water, storing carbon, and other benefits became painfully evident during a bike ride up the Old MacKenzie Highway. Every year, like clockwork, thousands of cyclists make the annual pilgrimage up the McKenzie Highway (242) from Sisters to the Dee Wright Observatory, through the magnificent forest. In 2019, after the MILLI FIRE, we saw firsthand the depressing wreckage – the charred and skeletal tree trunks, the deep rivulets through the badly damaged topsoil, and the eerie absence of flowers, birds, and wildlife.
We felt compelled to do our part by donating $1M to reforestation projects, starting in our own backyard here in Bend. The goal was simple: Plant 1 million or more trees, utilizing diverse and native species, targeting severe burn zones on public lands in forests between the High Desert and the Coast, with the expectation that whatever we planted would not be clear cut or harvested when mature by the lumber companies. We named our mission “Operation Appleseed” after Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), the legendary nurseryman who we know from childhood traveled the land planting apple trees as part of the westward expansion in the United States.
Since its inception in 2019, Operation Appleseed has expanded its efforts to include both private and public lands. The mission remains the same, but we know that benefits of reforestation occur not only on public lands, but include forested areas on private properties. Ecosystems don't recognize political boundaries. So while the initiative is focused on partnerships with the Forest Service and supporting organizations, we're also working with private land owners on increasing forested areas, re-wilding disturbed or managed areas, and improving biodiversity and habitat values.
It's all good work, and we hope you'll join us in the effort!
SURPASSING THE MILLION TREE MARK IN 2023
We are excited about the momentum, which has OA busting through the million-tree target in early 2023. We are currently strategizing with Discover Your Forest, Cascade Volunteers, the US Forest Service and others about the highest and best use of the remaining funds.
In deciding where the money’s spent and how much, we are guided by several metrics. These include:
Will the OA funded trees be safe from commercial harvesting?
How close is the forest to our home base in Bend, Oregon?
How many diverse native trees per acre can responsibly be planted?
What is the proximity to recreational areas?
Fire severity – what’s the potential for natural regeneration?
What are the volunteer planting opportunities?
The USFS and others have plotted several major reforestation projects in multiple national forests. The needs are many, the resources, sadly, are few. The planting projects range from reforestation, to improving floodplain habitat for salmon, turtles and trout. They include revegetating recreational areas and building new greenhouses to grow more saplings.
Currently, the WGC is focused on allocating our remaining resources to the following projects:
The 2020 LIONS HEAD FIRE, which devastated the town of Detroit and severely impacted 204,469 acres of forests and habitats between Breitenbush and Warm Springs
East Cascades Restoration, which includes high profile spots along the Deschutes River, Little Cultus Lake, Elk Lake, the Blue Lagoon, Tumalo Falls and Broken Top
The 2017 WHITEWATER FIRE which scorched 14,500 acres in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area
The 2020 GREENRIDGE FIRE near Camp Sherman (4,338 acres burned)
The 2020 BEACHIE CREEK FIRE in the Opal Wilderness (193,000 acres burned)
The 2020 Paulina Lake Fire which burned 48 acres.
As you know, the past few years have been a dismal year for Oregon’s forests. Countless wildfires have scorched more than 1,000,000 acres. Millions of dollars have been spent fighting the fires. Lives have been lost. The economic losses in the mega-millions. Entire towns have been wiped out. Businesses were forced to shut down because of the smoke induced dangerous air quality.
Around 10% of the Willamette National Forest was lost to these catastrophic events alone. As the planet’s temperature increases, droughts accelerate, the snowpack diminishes, pernicious beetles flourish, and the brittle forest floor fuel piles up, the frequency and intensity of wildfires will also ramp up. It’s a cycle that we must slow down.
There are many, many forests that need our help. A million dollars is a good start, but unfortunately it’s merely a drop in the bucket.
How you can help!
First, you can DONATE TO THE WORTHY GARDEN CLUB. We’ve been able to negotiate terms with our partners to bring the price per sapling below $1. The labor and material costs of replanting in a responsible and safe manner can be costly, depending on the conditions of the forest. The USFS has budgeted funds to undertake the planting operations and has outlined dozens of burn areas in Oregon that need help. Every dollar you donate will be invested in planting trees (no overhead) and the WGC will match your donation.
Second, you can volunteer your time and energy to assist with planting operations. The WGC will be notifying the public of volunteer opportunities as the replanting schedule solidifies. JOIN OUR VOLUNTEER EMAIL LIST now to stay updated.
Third, you can summon your inner Lorax and plant trees, shrubs and flowers in your own backyard. High concentrations of plantings have a greater potential to sequester carbon from the air into their roots and soil. Planting trees and shrubs in the right location with healthy soil ensures a long life and increased biodiversity in your backyard. Adding deep rooted perennial flowers and grasses are great ways to add interest to the garden while capturing CO2 in their leaves, stems, branches, and roots. Cultivating your own garden adds beauty and helps Mother Earth.
And, last but not least, and here’s where it gets even more fun, you can support OA by drinking a glass of TENMILE LAGER, brewed by Worthy Brewing in Bend, Oregon. Worthy Brewing donates a percentage of sales of this and other beers to Operation Appleseed. You can help plant trees, one pint at a time.
For more information about Operation Appleseed, please contact Rick Martinson, Executive Director of the Worthy Garden Club at 541-639-4776 x 221, or Rick@worthygardenclub.com.