USDA Forest Service Invests $106k into Healthy Forests and Job Training
Anchorage, AK – Urban forests surrounding Anchorage’s greenbelt trails will get some love from volunteers and teen crews under a new grant from the USDA Forest Service to the Anchorage Park Foundation. The grant builds on years of successful partnership between the Forest Service, Alaska Division of Forestry, Anchorage Park Foundation, Anchorage Parks & Recreation Department, the Anchorage Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and UAF Cooperative Extension Service.
Volunteers will be working this weekend to Beat Back Bird Cherry/Chokecherry/Mayday trees, one of the largest threats to forest health. Grant funds will be used the next two summers to purchase native trees and plants, and train youth crews to remove invasives and plant native trees in Anchorage parks and along the Chester and Campbell Creek trails. In addition to the ecological and community benefits, this work provides youth crew members meaningful first job experience and natural resource management training through the Youth Employment in Parks, a program offered by the Anchorage Park Foundation and Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department.
With more than 11,000 acres of parks and forests, Anchorage’s native species are facing threats from spruce beetle infestations accelerated by climate change and the highly invasive European Bird Cherry. Bird Cherry lacks the ability to host insects vital to healthy fish along the Chester and Campbell Creek Trails, the latter of which supports five species of Pacific salmon, Dolly Varden char and rainbow trout.
“The Spruce Bark Beetle has taken a terrible toll,” said Michael Shephard, deputy director for the Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Program. “Last year we were able to support the removal of dead trees, but the future relies on training the next generation to plant trees and restore forest health.”
Anchorage Park Foundation Executive Director Beth Nordlund invites the public to join them at a volunteer event this weekend. “Plant more trees – Just not European Bird Cherry Trees,” she said. “Our trees and trails are why we live here, and they need our help.”
What: Invasive Bird Cherry Tree ID and Removal + Tree Planting
When: Saturday, August 28, 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park and Lagoon – 1824 W 15th Ave
Volunteers should dress for the weather. Long pants, long sleeve shirt, and sturdy boots recommended. Work gloves, tools and water provided by Anchorage Parks and Rec. Free pizza for volunteers donated by Matson’s Caring for Alaska program.