Visit any one of our nation’s forests and you will quickly become a fan. Their beauty is majestic and unrivaled. Beyond their beauty, you may be surprised to learn our forests are actually hard at work deep within the tree line. Watersheds found in our forests are the largest supplier of drinking water to more than 180 million Americans across the country. But many of these watersheds are threatened by drought and disease afflicting forests across the country.
Publix Supermarkets —one of the largest employee-owned companies in the country — believes in making responsible choices that positively affect the environment. They have implemented green practices throughout their stores to run more sustainably. So, when Publix learned about two important watersheds under threat in their home state of Florida, they wanted to do something.
Publix partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to sponsor a clean waters program with a focus on reforestation projects within the company’s operating market.
The Little Orange Creek Preserve and the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin in central Florida have undergone drastic declines in water quality and loss of marsh habitat over the past century due to land use changes and poor agricultural practices. As a result of deteriorating water quality, the fish and wildlife populations have plummeted.
To celebrate the new project, we went to Florida to kick off the initiative with a ceremonial tree planting with Publix employees and the St. Johns Water Management District.
Publix has committed to planting more than 100,000 trees along the watersheds. These trees, along with the soil, will absorb and filter water, and increase groundwater as clean water feeds into aquifers that can be accessed hundreds of miles away, moderating stormwater runoff.
One of our long-term goals for this project is to restore these wetlands that have been deemed impaired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only will these trees filter the water, but they will protect local habitat and attract visitors for wildlife viewing and recreational activities. Restoration projects are already underway.
Visit to arborday.org to learn how you can help protect critical watersheds.