Post Fire Reforestation

Sponsors and Partners:

Apache Nation Forestry, Northern Arizona University, Inmate Nature Rehabilitation Program, Mt Elden Middle School, Alpine Academy, Pine Forest School, Flagstaff Junior Academy, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, Puente De Hozo Elementary School, Audobon, National Forest Foundation, Coconino National Forest, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Project Duration: 2017-Current

Project Overview

Post Fire Reforestation

The Land:

We are focusing on US National Forests and Private Conservation Easements in the American Southwest. In this area, millions of forest acres have been recently burnt by high severity wildfires. Poor forest management including fire suppression and overgrazing by livestock has resulted in overly dense forests with high accumulation of forest fuels. Reducing fuel loads by forest thinning and prescribed fire is difficult due to different attitudes on forest management among various cultural factions. This, combined with increasing aridity from global warming, results in conversion of forest to grassland with little natural regeneration of trees.

The People:

Although many western landscapes are managed by public agencies, there is a growing appreciation that public involvement is necessary if we want to manage lands appropriately and not bear witness to local extirpation of forests. To this end, we have brought tens of thousands of youth, adult volunteers, and community groups, to participate in tree planting. It is our hope that by connecting people to landscapes through participatory action that they will value nature more and make better land stewardship decisions.

The Restoration:

We have planted over 600,000 conifer trees over the past five years in areas consumed by wildfire. Primarily, we are working in Coconino National Forest, Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, White Mountain Apache Nation, Colorado State Forests, and Conservation Easements on private land in Arizona and Colorado.

We work with and inmate nature rehabilitation program that promotes training of inmates in conservation, restoration, and fire management. This program now has resulted in post-release professional crews and permanent jobs in US and State agencies. We also work with the EcoKids program where kids in northern Arizona have planted over 20,000 ponderosa pine trees.

We also conduct research to better understand the controls on net ecosystem productivity, i.e., carbon sequestration rates in plants and soil. We are also researching approaches  to increase survival of planted seedling such as increasing drought tolerance and reducing herbivory.