Volunteers Plant Healthy Communities in Wyoming

Photo Credit: Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Volunteers Plant Healthy Communities in Wyoming

Guest post from Tara Costanzo with Wyoming State Forestry Division in coordination with the Western Urban and Community Forestry Network's #HealthyTreesHealthyLives social media campaign.

A healthy forest is dependent on the diversity of the canopy; diversity in the form of species richness, size class, and age. Many of Wyoming’s community forests consist primarily of over-mature cottonwoods, spruce, and ash trees. Now more than ever, planting community trees increases health all around. 

WSFD’s Community Forestry Partnership Cost-Share Grants awarded funds for tree planting projects to 11 communities and tree planting non-profits. Despite restrictions, budget cuts, and staff reductions, we are happy to report that most of the tree planting projects have been or will be successfully completed by the end of the summer with over 600 new trees in the ground. Planting that many trees takes time and effort.

Utilizing volunteers is an important component for WSFD tree planting grant projects. While some projects were delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic, others were able to adapt to allow for safety and social distancing. Through volunteerism, these folks gain health benefits by participating, investing time and effort in community and civic enhancement, connecting with nature, building social relationships, and engaging in physical activity. All of these elements build a community foundation, sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and stimulate mental and physical health and wellness.

Through the power of volunteer work, the continued support and capacity building of tree planting programs and non-profits, and promotion of tree diversity and species richness, we can continue the upward trend of increasing healthy, resilient, sustainable, urban and community forest canopy cover in Wyoming.