The ceremonial first trees of the Pledge - several small White Pines - were planted by Mrs. Laura Bush and the Pledge partners to officially launch the program. Also on hand were Missouri Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent. The trees will be planted permanently in the Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri.
"We want to credit The National Arbor Day Foundation for this idea," said Andy Taylor, Enterprise Rent-A-Car chairman and CEO. "They came to us with the thought of making a long-term commitment in recognition of our 50th Anniversary. We liked the idea so much, we thought why not take this to the next level? This Pledge is our way of saying thanks for our first 50 years by making a really meaningful and significant commitment for the next 50."
"This gift couldn't come at time of greater need," said John Rosenow, president of The National Arbor Day Foundation. "Last year was the worst forest fire season in history. And unfortunately, 2006 is on pace to be even worse. This gift from Enterprise - the largest gift we've ever received - gives us the flexibility to respond quickly to forests damaged not only by fire, but also by storms, disease, and other causes."
Each year for the next 50 years, with funding provided by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, The National Arbor Day Foundation will work with the U.S. Forest Service to plant 1 million trees in National Forests around the country. These trees will help forests affected by natural disasters and disease, as well as rebuild and preserve habitats for endangered species. The grant also will fund tree-planting initiatives in international locations where Enterprise does business, including Europe and Canada.
"To put this gift in perspective, 50 million trees is the equivalent of planting a new Central Park about every 10 days, all year, for the next 50 years," said Taylor. "We know this commitment is not a total solution, but it's a solid step in the right direction."
How the Pledge works
This unique collaboration between The National Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car brings together the best of three worlds:
•Each year, The National Arbor Day Foundation will identify a number of tree planting projects throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada.
•Enterprise, a corporate citizen committed to giving back, will fund as many of these planting projects as possible - totaling 1 million trees each year.
•The National Arbor Day Foundation will work with the U.S. Forest Service, the public agency charged with protecting and preserving the National Forests, which will plant the trees where they are needed most.
The first trees of the 50 Million Tree Pledge already have been planted in several National Forests in great need. Included in these projects is post-fire restoration for California's Six Rivers National Forest.