How you and your family can protect your local environment

(StatePoint) It’s all too easy to feel out of touch with nature. But whether you live in an urban or rural setting, near a stand of woods or in the forest, there are trees near you that can help you feel connected to the outdoors. And getting involved with protecting your state’s woods is easy if you know how.

“From volunteer projects to civic engagement, there are many avenues for protecting your state’s trees and forests,” says Jim Karels, President of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF).

Any individual can have a positive impact.”

Karels is offering nature lovers ideas for effective woodland stewardship:

• Many forests are under attack from the emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle, and a host of other non-native species. Learning to identify these woodland pests and the signs of their impact can help keep their damage in check.

Prevent destructive hitchhikers by buying local firewood from within 10 miles of where you burn it.

• Become a conservation volunteer and help your state’s woods. State Foresters manage and protect state and private forests, which encompass two-thirds of the forestland in the United States. Your State Forester can help your family get more involved.

Plant a tree or check out Arbor Day opportunities your community, such as tree plantings and litter pickups— or better yet, host one yourself. Your state forestry agency should have a calendar of events to reference.

• Appreciate urban forestry. Even if you live in a suburban or urban locale, your community’s green infrastructure warrants protecting.

The presence of street trees in a neighborhood can increase the sale prices of houses. Additionally, research has shown that tree-lined streets encourage more active lifestyles, which can help reduce the incidence of obesity in your community.

• Learn to protect your home and family from fire. Nearly nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people, and your state forestry agency is a great resource for fire prevention education, including Smokey Bear appearances and nature talks.

• Spread the word. Our nation’s woodlands face many threats that require larger policy solutions. From invasive species to increasing land fragmentation, all woodlands need protection. Trees work for us and provide public benefits to all Americans. Connect with your State Forester for ways to be involved in policy solutions that are important to your state.

To get more informed, check out your state’s forest action plan. These plans document local priorities each state has for their woods. It’s the best way to find out where the danger is, where help is most needed, and who you can contact to get involved. To read your state’s forest action plan, visit

Another good reference point is the NASF, a non-profit comprised of the executive heads of departments of forestry in the United States. NASF works to protect woods and provide information to the public. More information can be found at contact-your-state-agency.

Your actions can affect the trees around you. Take steps to be part of the solution in your local environment.

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