This holiday season, gift givers can consider a donation to the U.S. Forest Service Plant-a-Tree Program as a gift idea for that special person who loves the natural world and public lands. Donations will be used to reforest burned areas on the San Juan National Forest.
Donations can be for any amount above the minimum donation of $10, and donors will receive a personalized certificate noting that a number of seedlings have been reserved to reforest an area of the San Juan National Forest. It costs the Forest Service about $2 per tree to grow seedlings in a nursery and plant the trees.
Plant-A-Tree donations are used locally for the cost of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir or Engelmann spruce tree seedlings. Reforestation is important in creating wildlife habitat, decreasing soil erosion, encouraging snow retention, sequestering carbon, and providing clean air.
"We focus planting in areas impacted by large-scale fires outside of wilderness area, where there is virtually no probability the area will reforest on its own in the next hundred years," said Gretchen Fitzgerald, San Juan National Forest Forester.
The U.S. Forest Service established the Plant-A-Tree Program in 1983 to allow donors to contribute money toward tree planting on National Forests to memorialize loved ones or commemorate births, weddings or special events, while helping to improve the environment. Seedlings planted with the donations are not designated on the ground as a memorial or individually recognized but instead become part of the forest ecosystem.
Donations by cash, check or credit card can be made in person at San Juan National Forest offices in Bayfield, Durango, Dolores and Pagosa Springs. Credit card donations can also be taken over the phone. Checks can also be mailed to San Juan National Forest Plant-A-Tree Coordinator, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO 81301.
Checks should be made payable to USDA Forest Service, with "Plant-A-Tree, San Juan National Forest" noted in the memo portion of the check. The program is considered a charitable donation by the IRS. Requests may take a few days to process, and contributions cannot be refunded. The donor receives a personalized certificate suitable for framing to document the gift.
For more information, visit the San Juan National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan or contact Fitzgerald at 884-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.