“Restoring our forested ecosystems to their original beauty and function is one of the biggest steps we need to make in repairing local environments,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “It’s exciting to be able to plant trees with groups like Energy Transfer because it allows us to carry out our mission with far more impact and demonstrates to the world that high-quality teamwork is incredibly valuable in solving the world’s most pressing issues.”
The projects, located in Indiana, Michigan and Texas, will help improve wildlife habitats and other local environmental issues, including watershed restoration, disease and invasive species control.
“We are pleased to partner with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees in these three key areas, which overlap with our operating footprint,” said Tom Mason, Energy Transfer General Counsel and head of its Alternative Energy Group. “This program is part of our larger focus on reducing our environmental footprint across the 41 states in which we operate. It will not only benefit the forested ecosystems, but it will help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to provide cleaner air. Our hope is that it will help make a lasting impact on our environment for generations to come.”
In Indiana, Energy Transfer’s partnership will support 5,000 trees planted in Wallier Woods, a 673-acre nature preserve dedicated to wild bat conservation through the Nature Conservancy. The loss of trees and habitat over the past several decades has led to the decline in several major bat populations sheltered in Wallier Woods, including the northern long-eared bat, gray bat, and the federally endangered Indiana bat. Bats provide important environmental and economic benefits to the region, such as consuming insects that damage crops, pollinating plants and vegetation, and ultimately saving U.S. farmers an estimated $1 billion a year. Located near the Ohio River, this project will also improve the land’s water quality by reducing runoff and filtering pollutants from surrounding farm fields.
In Michigan, 10,000 trees will be planted alongside the state’s Department of Natural Resources as part of a statewide effort to replant forested lands that have been lost. Tree species like the Jack and red pine have experienced significant over-logging since the 19th century, leaving today’s local populations at risk of continued, rapid decline. This planting effort aims to rehabilitate these public lands back to their natural state, which will provide Michigan with additional benefits like improved carbon sequestration, water filtration, and a variety of habitat for local wildlife like deer, turkey, grouse, and — most notably — the Kirtland’s warbler. Through tree planting efforts like this, the Kirtland’s warbler was recently removed from the endangered species list, as forested ecosystems continue to improve in the region.
In Texas, 10,000 trees will be planted across several private lands alongside the Longleaf Alliance in Texas. Longleaf pine was once the dominant tree species in the southern United States, covering more than 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. As early settlers began clearing away forests 400 years ago, longleaf pines have gradually disappeared, resulting in the loss of habitat for nearly 600 different plants and animals. Today, the longleaf pine covers less than 3% percent of its original territory. In addition to wildlife restoration, this project will help Texas reduce forest fragmentation and erosion, as well as provide disease and weather resistant ecosystems to the state’s local environments.