The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

Forests Are More Than Trees

- Photo by Chao Yen

Forests cover about one-third of the land in the United States. Is there a forest near you?

This week, The Mini Page finds out more about forests and trees.

Changing forests

When European colonists came to America in the 1600s, much of the area they settled in was covered with forests. But today’s forests are different from those the colonists saw. Few of the old, giant trees are still standing. Many forests, especially in the East, have been cut down and regrown.

Most of the large trees in today’s eastern forests are 70 to 150 years old. But in some areas of the country, there are still some trees that are 4,000 to 5,000 years old.

Types of trees

Different types of trees grow in forests in different areas. Some of the main types in each region in the U.S. include:

• Northeast: trees such as oaks that shed their leaves in the fall;

• South: trees that shed their leaves and evergreens such as pine;

• Northwest: evergreens such as hemlock, spruce and fir;

• West: evergreens such as pine and spruce, as well as redwoods and sequoia.

Fabulous forests

Forests are important to the environmen­t and the economy. Forests:

• reduce carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases. Many experts believe greenhouse gases are warming the Earth, which is dangerous to the environmen­t.

• release oxygen back into the environmen­t.

• clean pollutants and sediment from water flowing through the forest.

• protect the soil from flood, erosion and drought. Forests absorb water like a sponge, then release it slowly.

• provide habitats for thousands of different plant and animal species.

• help regulate temperatur­es in the area. Forests absorb moisture and then release it into the air, which cools the air. A large tree may release 100 to 300 gallons of moisture a day.

• provide recreation areas for millions of visitors each year.

• provide timber for building and wood products such as paper. The United States uses three to four times more forest products per person than most other countries in the world. Much of this goes to building big houses and providing paper products.

Forest helpers

The U.S. Forest Service has two animal characters that help protect our forests and the wildlife living there.

In 1950, firefighte­rs were battling a major fire in New Mexico. Soldiers who were helping fight the fire discovered a bear cub that had climbed to the top of a small tree to escape the fire.

The tree was burned, and the cub’s paws and legs were burned, but he still clung to the tree. It saved his life.

The soldiers rescued him, and a New Mexico game and fish ranger took him to a veterinari­an to heal his wounds.

The USFS already had a character named Smokey Bear, but when the little bear cub was rescued, he became a living symbol of fire prevention.

He found a good home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he lived for many years.

Woodsy Owl’s main motto is “Lend a hand — care for the land!” He flies around the country urging kids to care for the environmen­t.

He was created in 1970 as a symbol urging people to value nature. He is also known for saying, “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute!”

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 ??  ?? These eagles are nesting in a tree near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
These eagles are nesting in a tree near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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 ??  ?? This dwarf bald cypress grows in the southern U.S.
This dwarf bald cypress grows in the southern U.S.

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