INSTITUTE, WV (LOOTPRESS) – West Virginia State University (WVSU) and Diversified Energy Company today announced a new partnership effort to plant more than 10,000 trees around the state of West Virginia in the coming year.
Diversified Energy made a donation of $125,000 to fund the new initiative.
“We are excited to partner with Diversified Energy on this transformative project that will not only leverage WVSU’s statewide extension service network, but engage local communities in this year-long endeavor,” said WVSU President Ericke S. Cage. “We are thankful to Diversified Energy for its commitment to environmental stewardship and for helping to keep West Virginia such a beautiful place to live, work and play.”
Teresa Odom, Diversified Energy’s Vice President of ESG & Sustainability, said “One of the foundational elements of our stewardship model is the sustainable management of our assets that provide clean, affordable energy throughout the Appalachian region. That stewardship model naturally extends into an emphasis on environmental programs, and this partnership with WVSU demonstrates Diversified’s commitment to engaging with and giving back to the communities in which our employees work and live.”
The project builds off of the legacy and models the framework of the West Virginia Division of Forestry’s Mountaineer Treeways Program, which provided free corporately-sponsored bare root seedlings to communities and organizations for planting on public lands in exchange for an in-kind match of volunteer time and a one-year survivability report.
The project will be divided into three stages. For Stage One, 5,000 trees will be planted. Volunteers will plant trees along a tract of land ravaged by a tornado in 2015 at Coopers Rock that was subsequently logged to salvage any remaining timber. Trees will also be planted to improve the safety, natural aesthetics and recreation of the Morris Creek watershed and the old Mammoth Mine site in the Gauley River watershed. The last location for tree planting in stage one is the Marilla Streamback stabilization project and Outdoor Learning Park in the Deckers Creek Watershed.
Stage Two will engage Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters from around the state in planting 5,000 trees. Each participating FFA chapter will determine the location for planting and number of trees to be planted at each location.
In Stage Three, trees will be planted for beautification or production for fruits or nuts in urban communities where the area is predominantly underserved. Trees will be placed in low socially economic areas throughout the state, working with individual homeowners, church groups, schools and other community organizations. Educational components will exist concerning tree production and care. WVSU’s Extension Service will reach out to and survey individual communities and gauge interest in the programming and offering of trees to determine locations.
In addition to the tree plantings around the state, a portion of the donation from Diversified Energy will also go for tree planting and other biodiversity initiatives on the WVSU campus.
Tree planting for the entire project would begin between April and June 2023 with planting ending between September and November 2023.
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