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PNS Daily Newscast - November 21, 2017 


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Maryland-Based Group Tries to Preserve the Nation's Forests

Downed trees found in old-growth forests put valuable nutrients back into the soil. (Virginia Carter)
Downed trees found in old-growth forests put valuable nutrients back into the soil. (Virginia Carter)
May 15, 2017

EASTON, Md. – An effort is underway to designate an old-growth forest in every county in the United States that has forestland.

Maryland's Old-Growth Forest Network is spearheading the effort, and the group’s executive director, Joan Maloof, says 95 percent of the nation's original forestland has been removed or radically altered.

She says people who want to visit an older forest often have to travel many miles to do so, and if these forests aren't protected now, future generations won't get a chance to experience them at all.

Maloof points out most states, including Maryland, don't protect state parks from logging, and she would like that to change.

"In Maryland, we have beautiful old-growth forests that I would like to put into the Old-Growth Forest Network,” she states. “But as a requirement to be in the network, those forests have to be protected."

Maloof praises lawmakers in Maryland who passed legislation in 2014 to expand the state's Wildlands system by 50 percent. It permanently protects the wilderness character of 22, acres of sensitive state-owned lands.

Maloof says about 3 out of 4 counties nationwide have forests worth preserving, and she maintains spending time in these undisturbed spots can improve a person's health.

"In addition to what we see through our eyes – the birds and the insects and the fungi that are there – we're also breathing in things that are given off by all those organisms that can actually affect our health and our mood," she stresses.

Maloof says volunteers are key to saving the forests across the country and her group is looking for people who can help. It also is asking Marylanders to nominate areas to be considered for inclusion in the Old-Growth Forest Network. That can be done at oldgrowthforest.net.



Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD