A forest in Montana will get 170,000 new seedlings planted in it courtesy of a $26,000 donation from the American Forest Foundation. The seedlings will be planted over about 500 acres in the Big Belt Mountains and near Stemple Pass in areas burned severely by forest fires in 2000. Forest fires at the time devastated a tremendous number of trees. Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine seedlings will be planted to replace the lost trees and to help restore the watershed, by reducing erosion of the land.
Erosion following severe fires can cause damage to ponds, lakes and rivers due to mudslides and sediment transport even without mudslides. Flooding can also be an effect. High sediment levels in streams and rivers can interfere with spawning and rearing of hatchling fish. Nutrients in soil are also washed away when erosion occurs. So replanting trees isn’t just replacing individual plants, it is rejuvenating the physical and chemical balance of the ecosystem. Tree planting also gives a lift to the human community psychologically and economically because it provides jobs and community building.
The Big Belt Mountains are a section of the Rocky Mountains, situated mostly in Helena National Forest. There are two species of Douglas Firs in the US; Rocky Mountain and Coast. A Coast species has been measured at over 300 feet tall. Lodgepole Pine were named from their common use in Native American tepees.
Visit the American Forest Foundation site to learn more about their work.
Image Credit: Cody Hough