“Trees need people and people need trees,” chanted 50 elementary students from Sylmar and Inglewood, making branch shapes with their arms. The students – on field trips to Coldwater Canyon Park for the kick-off event – joined Cal Fire, LA Conservation Corps, Junior Rangers, Spectrolabs, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg on September 7 to cheer at the announcement of the new initiative in mountain forest restoration. With a $1 million legacy gift from our partners at Boeing, Forest Aid will mobilize communities, businesses, schools, and others to mitigate the effects of years of devastating fires and restore healthy forests.
“Unfortunately, the trees in these beautiful mountains, and in forests throughout the world, are more at risk today than they have ever been,” TreePeople CEO Cindy Montañez explained to the students and the gathered crowd.
“The trees need us now…and we, as a caring society with our national identity of loving our national forests, our mountains, and our public lands, need to respond in record time – because people also need trees.”
Forest Aid is a new campaign that will restore forests in fire-ravaged areas to minimize future fire risks and other environmental threatswhile fostering healthy ecosystems. The benefits of healthy forests are many – for the environment and people–including lowering wildfire threats, reducing the risk of floods and mudslides, creating habitat for local animals, reducing greenhouse gasses, improving groundwater recharge, and cooling the region.
“At Boeing, we are in the business of building the future,” shared Tamika Lang, a Senior Manager with Boeing Global Engagement. “That includes tackling real-world problems and leading in the communities where our employees live and work. For decades, our employees have been planting trees and engaging with TreePeople – we have had employees who have become citizen foresters, and employees who have helped grow seedlings from the very beginning with TreePeople’s founder Andy.”
Friday morning’s ceremony featured the first tree planting of the Forest Aid campaign. The sapling will grow next to a popular hiking trail in Coldwater Canyon Park. TreePeople founder and president Andy Lipkis christened the baby “Spec” in honor of Spectrolab, a Sylmar tech business whose products include solar arrays for spacecraft, who were impacted by recent wildfires and helped with the Forest Aid launch.
The assembled crowd represented one of the key approaches of Forest Aid: bringing communities together across nontraditional lines. TreePeople and Boeing are working to convince all facets of society – private, public, political, and corporate – to get their hands in the soil, restoring forests and protecting public safety.
Forest Aid is the next step based on TreePeople’s model of forest restoration, developed over the years. There are ways for everyone to get involved, individually or with their company, religious organization, or other groups. You can be a part of this effort by going to www.treepeople.org/volunteer and selecting a volunteer event that interests you, or by donating at www.treepeople.org/match.