American Forests

Washington, D.C.

Nov 2, 2011
Outside Magazine
American Forests

An American Forests Global ReLeaf tree planting project to restore the Lake Tahoe area affected by California‚Äôs Angora Fire.    Photo: Courtesy of American Forests

BY THE NUMBERS: Nearly 40 million trees planted in the past 21 years
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Scott Steen, 47, former executive ­director of the American Ceramic Society, an organization for cera­mic engineers and scientists
WHAT IT DOES: Forests are the planet’s most effective carbon sinks, so their health has never been more important. Which is why newly appointed CEO Steen is revamping this old-guard conservation organization—founded in 1875 to establish and protect state and national forests—into a force to battle climate change, boost river and habitat quality, and improve recreation areas. With nearly a third of the staff replaced and a new science advisory board ­installed, the group is now largely focused on reforestation projects in ­response to urban need and devastation from wildfires, insect infestations, agricultural clearing, and ­pollution. This year, American Forests introduced 54 new ­projects, ranging from a 27,000-tree planting effort near Oregon’s Klamath River—to prevent erosion into tribal fisheries owned by the Yurok, Karuk, and Hoopa people—to a project in Cameroon that involves planting 50,000 trees.
EXTRA CREDIT: In the face of climate change and clean-water shortages, forest health has never been more important. American Forests has earned a top rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy.
LOOKING AHEAD: Whitebark pines are known as a keystone species with an outsize ability to enhance ecosystem diversity; they’re also nearly extinct in some parts of the Rockies. American Forests is working with the Forest Service and a team of researchers to identify and breed disease-resistant trees.