Executive Message

Springing Ahead

By Matt Harris | February 8, 2016

Springtime is upon us. In some parts of the country, neighborhoods are turning green again. For other areas, it’s just around the corner. While we may take it for granted, the coming of spring seems to never fail us. This is a time when we think fondly of our connection with trees and eagerly anticipate planting new life in our yards and communities.

When we think of trees, we think of color and beauty, shade and songbirds, and fresh, clean air. But what about every time we turn on the faucet for a glass of water? I wonder how many of us think of trees then. We should — because trees are directly connected to clean water.

Many Arbor Day Foundation members know of our work replanting our nation’s forests — where trees soak up rain and snowmelt, naturally releasing clean water in dry times — and where trees on mountainsides and along rivers and streams protect water resources from erosion and polluted runoff.

Our work replanting forests has been from coast to coast, from California’s Tahoe and Shasta National Forests to the Blackwater State Forest in Florida and the Pike National Forest where millions of Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted high in the Rockies to protect the South Platte watershed which the people of Denver surrounding communities depend on.

This year our work continues. In the expansive Chesapeake Bay watershed, a critical 200-mile estuary running through six states, there are 50 major rivers and streams, many of which are impaired due to increased development challenges. The long-term goal of the work is to remove local tributaries from the impaired waters list through increased forested buffers.

In Oregon, we’re replanting the iconic Willamette River watershed to help protect water where two-thirds of Oregon’s people live and to restore critical habitat for migratory salmon and woodland wildlife.

And in the heartland, our replanting work includes replanting natural hardwood forests in the Mississippi alluvial valley. As we plant trees in Indiana’s Patoka River watershed, for example, we’re helping to help clean water as it flows into the Wabash, then the mighty Mississippi as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Water is a resource we simply can’t live without. There is no replacement for water. But we can plant trees.

As more and more people join the Arbor Day Foundation, we’re able to plant more and more trees in our nation’s forests to protect water resources.

I’m grateful to the many Foundation members and supporters who make this possible.

For those who aren’t yet a member of the Arbor Day Foundation, please visit arborday.org/members

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