National Forest Foundation

Five Federally Listed Animals Impacted by Reforestation Efforts

Trees, Wildlife


Category: Trees, Wildlife
by Monica Perez-Watkins

Our 50 Million For Our Forests campaign plants trees on National Forests across the US, reforesting a wide variety of geographies and ecosystems. By enhancing habitat and creating structural diversity, tree cover, food sources, and more, our reforestation efforts benefit countless species of wildlife, including many federally listed threatened and endangered species. In fact, more than 400 federally listed species inhabit our National Forests. Here are a handful of wildlife species that benefit from our reforestation efforts:

Gopher Tortoise

Status: Threatened in its western range; candidate for listing in its eastern range

Shuffling through the longleaf pine forests of the Southeast, the long-lived gopher tortoise is the region’s only native land tortoise. Reduced and fragmented habitat has led to its decline, as longleaf pine forests exist on only about 3% of its historic range. As its name implies, the gopher tortoise can burrow up to 40 feet, taking shelter from the Southern heat, predators, and fire. A keystone species, the tortoise’s burrow provides refuge for more than 350 animals, including snakes, frogs, and small mammals.

Each year, we plant thousands of longleaf pine seedlings, helping to re-establish this iconic southern pine and improve habitat for wildlife like the gopher tortoise.

Gregory Slobirdr

Grizzly Bear

Status: Threatened in the lower 48 states

Grizzly bears have a unique hold on the American public, inspiring feelings of both intense adoration and fear. Once found from Alaska to Mexico and across the Great Plains, they now inhabit around 2% of their former range in the contiguous US. Human-bear conflict and habitat loss have been the main drivers of the bear’s decline. With a home range of up to 600 square miles for a male grizzly, these omnivores need extensive habitat, and our work in the Northern Rockies supports this.

Our campaign also supports the re-establishment of whitebark pine, an ecologically important and highly nutritious food source for grizzly bears and other animals. Its seeds are rich in protein and fat, perfect for grizzlies trying to pack on extra pounds for the winter. Whitebark pine is itself a candidate for listing due to its decline and vulnerability to white pine blister rust, the mountain pine beetle, and climate change.

Pacific SW Region USFWS

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Status: Endangered

A subspecies of the more common willow flycatcher, the Southwestern willow flycatcher is a migratory songbird that breeds in the Southwest and winters in Latin American rainforests. Flycatchers consume a wide variety of insects, and thanks to their insect-eating might, these little birds play a large role in keeping insect numbers at bay in riparian areas. Loss of this flycatcher’s riparian habitat is one of the primary reasons for its decline, and our reforestation efforts in the Southwest enhance its breeding habitat.

Photo credit: Ezhuttukari

Mount Graham Red Squirrel

Status: Endangered

The Mount Graham red squirrel lives within the spruce-fir forests of the Pinaleño Mountains on Arizona’s Coronado National Forest. The red squirrel subspecies was believed extinct in the 1950s, but a small population was found in the 1970s. Its population has fluctuated since, but a series of wildfires over the past few decades have further reduced its population.

Mount Graham red squirrels cache and eat Douglas-fir cones, and in 2020, we will plant thousands of Douglas-fir seedlings on the squirrel’s fire-impacted habitat. Planting will help re-establish the conifer and its food source, while also creating more shelter to hide from predators - important for the small, endangered squirrel.

Marya Buhler

Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel

Status: Endangered

Another member of the Sciuridae family, the Carolina northern flying squirrel lives in the high elevation mixed-spruce forests of the Southern Appalachians. These nocturnal flying squirrels “fly" from tree to tree, expanding the folds between their limbs and exposing their gliding membrane to launch. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of this species’ decline, and our tree-planting efforts in this area help these flying squirrels take flight.

This blog post is sponsored by Endangered Species Chocolate, a National Forest Foundation partner since 2019.

Related Posts

Five Quick Facts about Tree Planting

Our supporters know that we plant locally sourced, native trees on high need National Forests through our partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, but we often receive inquiries about how and when we plant. Here are five quick facts that may help answer some of your planting questions and demonstrate the measures our agency partner takes to ensure that our trees survive.

Read more

What Happens to Wildlife During a Wildfire?

So, what exactly is the impact of forest fires on wildlife? It turns out that like most things in life, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, wildfire is a natural part of the ecosystem in the western United States, and wildlife has a long relationship with it. Some species even benefit from the blazes. On the other hand, of course fire can be dangerous to animals and plants that can’t outrun it.

Read more

Tree Planting During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Challenges and Impacts to 2020 Projects

As if the logistical challenges of planting millions of trees were not enough, add into the mix a global public health crisis, unlike anything the world has seen in generations. The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has taken an immense toll on the lives and well-being of many and created unprecedented challenges to on-the-ground forestry and conservation efforts, our 50 Million For Our Forests campaign included.

Read more

Share this post on social media


Support Tree Planting

Support our National Forests for generations to come and plant trees today.

Donate Now