Urban Trees make a difference across the Nation. Over the next 50 weeks, we will be sharing one story from each state. We'll start with Alabama.
Alabama Tree Recovery – Offering Hope and Restoration for Tornado Victims
Many homeowners in Alabama can now look out their windows or down their city lanes, and see small trees growing toward a much fairer leaf-adorned sky. However, they remember the darker days, the devastating winds and toppling trees. The Alabama Tree Recovery Campaign is a story of restoration and hope, of many volunteers and organizations working together to replace trees torn and destroyed by violent winds.
In the months following April 2011 when dozens of tornados ripped across Alabama, the Alabama Forestry Commission joined forces with the Arbor Day Foundation to begin a multi-year, large-scale initiative to restore trees to the stricken communities. Through the Campaign, over 60 communities in 24 counties received seedlings and assistance in replanting their lost urban forest. After its third and final year of distribution and planting, more than 85,000 native tree seedlings of more wind resistant species will be in the ground, growing to replace those lost to catastrophic winds.
Although Alabama Forestry Commission employees and Arbor Day members delivered the seedlings, the number of trees would not have been planted without countless local volunteers and homeowners who applied their own sweat equity and learned the proper way to locate and plant trees. The campaign was made possible by financial contributions from individuals, private foundations, and corporate sponsors across the nation and globe including Alabama Power Foundation, Apache Corporation, Australia-based Cotton On Foundation, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, Davey Tree Expert Company, FedEx, NASCAR, and Protective Life Insurance.
In the words of one resident, “The outpouring of volunteer energy following the storm needed to be matched by an outpouring of goods and ideas. One such match was certainly the Alabama Tree Recovery Campaign. In addition to local donations, [it] helped provide the first signs of hope to our area. I describe the transformation of Tuscaloosa as running from devastation immediately following the storm, to desolation as the debris was removed and the loss and emptiness became more fully apparent. The arrival of new trees into yards where houses were being rebuilt and onto lots where the future was, and even now may remain uncertain, brought back dreams and hope…. The trees symbolize perfectly the progress we make as a society to create vast and wonderful improvements to our lives, a process which takes vision and work over time. I appreciate the resources the Tree Recovery Campaign has provided to the process.”
Another resident noted, “It was remarkable to hear the many associations that people had with their trees. They would say how they miss the shade their trees gave during the summer, how much hotter their homes are and how much more expensive it is for them to run the air conditioner. ... How they missed the birds and wildlife that used to come to their yard, but they haven’t seen after the storms. How they were surprised at how much more water runs off their property and practically floods their streets, and how fast the rain water flows and washes away areas of their yard and driveway. It was amazing to hear the many memories people had associated with their trees and their emotional ties to those trees: kids playing and climbing on them, feeders and art hanging from them, photos of families (generations, even) that were taken underneath them.”
While the cleanup and rebuilding in these communities will continue for years to come, the opportunity to support the Alabama Tree Recovery Campaign remains. For every dollar donated, a seedling will be added to those already planted and help in the healing process.
For more information: www.forestry.alabama.gov/TreeRecoveryCampaign.aspx