Arbor Day Observed: Dixie National Forest Plants 98,633 Trees Restoring Wildfire Areas

Are you planting trees for Arbor Day? The Dixie National Forest has been observing both Arbor Day and Earth Day this April, planting 98,633 ponderosa tree seedlings to restore disturbed areas across the Forest.

The Dixie National Forest planted the ponderosa pine seedlings over the past three weeks on the Cedar City, Powell and Escalante Ranger Districts. The seedlings were planted in order to help revitalize areas where the forest is struggling to regrow an adequate number of trees following disturbance such as wildfire. On the Cedar City District, 52,770 ponderosa seedlings were planted within the 2012 Shingle Fire area. On the Powell Ranger District, 6,695 seedlings were planted in Ahlstrom Hollow and 39,168 trees in the Corn Creek area on the Escalante District, to restore forest stands impacted by insects, disease, and wildfire.

While fire is beneficial to forests by reducing forest fuel build up and restoring nutrients to the soil, sometimes wildfires due to unnaturally high fuel loading and time of the year can burn very hot and very quickly through entire forest stands killing all or most of the trees and sterilizing soils. When this happens the natural spread of seeds and restoration of a healthy forest may take many years.  By planting seedlings, the regeneration process can be jumpstarted.

“Over the past five years, a half million trees have been planted on the Dixie to restore disturbed areas,” said Patrick Moore, Supervisory Forester.

The planting sites were selected due to the need to speed up forest regrowth after disturbance along with the accessibility for planting trees. Funding for the project comes from a variety of generous organizations including Utah Partners for Conservation and Development, American Forests, USFS Region 4, and USFS State and Private Forestry – Forest Health Protection.

When planting the seedlings, the contracted tree planters dig a small hole with a hoedad, place the seedling in the hole, bury the root of the seedling, and then compact the dirt to ensure the seedling doesn’t become uprooted.

The reforestation from these tree plantings provides numerous benefits. More than 160 million Americans have healthy, clean drinking water thanks to our life-giving Forests. Our Forests clean our air, absorb carbon dioxide, provide vital habitat for wildlife, and create jobs.  For more information on the Dixie National Forest Plant-A-Tree Program visit http://1.usa.gov/1Mwm3Is

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