Growing Trees and Jobs in America – Appalachia 2011
Green Forests Work for Appalachia was a project created by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) aimed at putting American citizens “back to work,” to revitalize the economy in Appalachia and to provide multi-use forests that are a vital and sustainable resource.
The Baum Foundation provided support to the organization to organize its reforestation initiative in 2009 and 2010, to name the program Green Forests Work and to prepare their plans for future funding support for planting 125,000,000 trees on 175,000 acres of barren mined land.
In 2010, Green Forests Work organized 17 tree planting events throughout the Appalachian coal region, planted 150,000 tree seedlings on approximately 210 acres of previously coal-mined lands, and engaged over 2,000 volunteers. There are up to one million acres of mined land in economically depressed Appalachia that we can plant trees on. Much of the soil has been reduced to an ecological desert of compacted soils and mostly non-native, aggressive grasses and shrubs. By 2014, planting trees on coal-mined land can create over 2,000 jobs.
The Baum Foundation also brought in Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, to Appalachia to see first hand what the endeavor was about. This led to the inclusion of Green Forests Work in a seminal report titled Economic Diversification in Central Appalachia that outlines a strategy for recovery and sustainable prosperity for Appalachia that will be delivered to the Department of the Interior and President Obama.
In 2010 Green Forests Work successfully won support from various funding sources for their future tree-planting efforts. Forest scientist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania was awarded enough stimulus money to plant 300 acres in Pennsylvania. Green Forests Work spurred on the American Municipal Power to finance (for the carbon credits) tree planting for about 200 acres in Ohio and possibly another 100 in Western Kentucky. In 2010, The Divisions of Forestry in Kentucky, Virginia, and Alabama each had about $100,000 from the United States Forestry Service to plant about 100 acres in each of those states.
After years of effort, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) informed Dr. Chris Barton, science team leader for the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) that ARC intended to fund Green Forests Work. Funding for the project served to develop a staff, and facilitate ARRI ripping/tree planting projects on old, abandoned, legacy mines.