A dollar a tree. That's the simple math behind the Florida State Parks Foundation's Plant a Pine program, which started last year with the goal of raising $100,000 before Earth Day 2021 to plant 100,000 new longleaf pine trees in Florida state parks. The foundation hasn't yet hit its fundraising target, but it's close. As of Wednesday, the day before Earth Day, the nonprofit had raised $93,300.
The foundation wants to increase the number of pine trees in the state to help make up for massive losses in the tree's population. According to The National Wildlife Federation, longleaf pine trees today cover only 3 percent of the 90 million acres that they once did. Many trees were cut down to be used as lumber or cleared to make way for development or agriculture. Hurricanes and other storms have knocked over many, as well. Longleaf pines serve as important habitat for many Florida animals.
Planting has already begun in many state parks, including Osprey's Oscar Scherer State Park. Eleven other parks have already received trees, including Torreya State Park, Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Fort Cooper State Park and Highlands Hammock State Park. Bradenton’s Lake Manatee State Park is set to receive pines, as well.
Julia Woodward, the chief executive officer of the State Parks Foundation, says the organization still hopes to hit its $100,000 target by midnight on Thursday, April 22.