Together, North Kaibab Ranger District personnel and a crew from MP Forestry Inc., of Medford, Oregon, were able to take advantage of this winter’s relatively light snow pack and reasonably mild weather to successfully replant another 485 acres of ponderosa pine seedlings in the Warm V project area that was severely damaged by the 2006 Warm Fire.

During a three-week window in late spring, crews replanted approximately 100,000 seedlings, made possible in part by a $12,200 grant from the American Forests’ Global ReLeaf program, a program dedicated to restoring forest ecosystems.

“This is a multi-phase reforestation effort with many facets that must be accomplished,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker. “Seeds must be harvested, grown, and the area salvage logged before any seedlings actually go in the ground.”

Salvage logging this project area and then replanting has been a high priority for the North Kaibab Ranger District. Logging the salvageable wood reduces the volume of potential fuel loads on the ground that could potentially pose a wildfire re-burn risk.

In addition to salvage logging, seeds must be harvested. Seeds for this reforestation effort were harvested from the Kaibab Plateau in 2009, grown at the Cal Forestry Nursery in northern California, and returned to the North Kaibab and stored in a large cooler where they were kept frozen until conditions favored their survivability.

“These replanting efforts are crucial to helping speed the recovery of this project area by reestablishing the native trees and creating a seed source for natural regeneration,” said North Kaibab Silviculturist Garry Domis.

Reforestation efforts will also help to stabilize sensitive soils, reduce erosion and provide improved habitat for wildlife, according to Domis.

To date, more than 5,000 acres have been reforested since this recovery project began, more than one million ponderosa pine and Douglas fir seedlings have been replanted, and this year’s reforestation project is the fifth replanting endeavor in the Warm Fire project area.

Over the last five years, this reforestation effort has been made possible through grants provided by the National Forest Foundation, American Forest Foundation, Salt River Project Trees for Change program, and the National Bank of Arizona’s Sustainable Initiatives program.