In August 2008 we traveled to Montana to visit the 600 Douglas Fir trees planted for us in July in Gallatin National Forest.
We knew the Derby Fire had destroyed 249,000 acres of Gallatin in 2006, but nothing really could have prepared us for what we saw.
It is hard to describe the eerie sensation of isolation, of utter quiet and hopelessness you feel when surrounded by miles of tree skeltons.
Happily, after a 20 mile drive down a dirt road, we found the seedlings thriving, having been planted very carefully by the Forest Service. The seedlings were between 10 and 16 inches tall, had a space of 18″ around them cleared of competing vegetation, and a log set on one side to provide the growing trunk with partial shade.
The trip was overwhelming, emotional, and uplifting. Now more than ever we are excited to be planting trees and helping restore areas in desperate need of reforestation like Gallatin.
Since Douglas Fir trees typically do not regenerate themselves after a fire, without help Gallatin National Forest would have stayed a dry, lifeless, desolate area for years come. But now, with your help, there is new life.