Growing up with the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in Washington as her backyard, Dayle Wallien is no stranger to the outdoors. A runner, cross-country skier, and mountaineer, staying active and taking advantage of all the natural world has to offer has been infused into Dayle’s daily life from a young age.
Now serving as the Conservation Partnerships Director at the National Forest Foundation (NFF), she’s been able to build a career protecting the place where she spent much of her childhood. Before joining the NFF in 2013, Dayle served as Executive Director of the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation. She also spent nine years as an attorney in a private law practice in Alaska and Nebraska, focusing on business law, environmental law, and litigation.
Now with the National Forest Foundation, Dayle focuses on forest and watershed protection for much of the West Coast and several states across the U.S. Her work also supports several youth programs, helping underserved youth access the outdoors. Alongside her colleagues at the National Forest Foundation, she works to bring impactful initiatives to life across the U.S., including within Arizona.
Better Place Forests is a proud partner to the National Forest Foundation. We spoke with Dayle about NFF’s work in Arizona, including what Better Place Forests is doing to support the Flagstaff community and projects statewide.
Protecting natural resources and communities in Arizona
The National Forest Foundation’s mission is at the crossroads of public engagement and forest conservation. Their work aims to “engage Americans in promoting the health and public enjoyment of our National Forests.” Educating the public about why forests matter helps Americans see their role in conservation. They’ve made incredible progress in protecting our forests, watersheds, and communities across the nation that depend on these resources.
In Arizona, much of Dayle and her colleagues’ work with the National Forest Foundation focuses on fire mitigation and forest health resiliency: enabling forests to be better protected against natural disturbances, particularly wildfire. One of those projects is the Lower Salt River Project. This initiative replaces invasive riverside species — whose growth increases the risk of severe fire along the river — with native trees. This work is critical because National Forests supply millions with fresh water and are also home to thousands of wildlife species. They provide jobs, recreation, climate mitigation, and so much more.
The NFF also facilitates robust youth programs throughout the state. For rural youth that may not have the economic or social resources to support them being out in the wild, NFF serves to bridge that gap and get young adults connected to the outdoors. Their programs — like Earth Camp — provide hands-on education about natural resource management and conservation career opportunities. Not only is NFF paving a brighter future for these youth, but they’re also developing future stewards of Arizona’s outdoor spaces.
National Forest Foundation partners with Better Place Forests
The key to Dayle and her colleagues’ success, and that of NFF, is their understanding of the interdependence of our communities, forests, watersheds, and wildlife. Supporting each with necessary resources enables the others to thrive and flourish. Similarly, the work we do at Better Place Forests is about protecting our forests for generations to come, including the surrounding communities. Together, we’ve been able to make great strides in preserving the state’s natural resources.
Better Place Forests is proud to be a part of the National Forest Foundation’s tree planting program — a campaign to replant 50 million trees across American’s National Forests. When forests are impacted by wildfire, insects, or disease, replanting seedlings can help ensure a quicker recovery. We see the benefits of this work compound dramatically over time: planting trees supports everything from wildlife recovery to water quality. So far, Better Place Forests has donated 5050 trees to NFF.
The future of National Forest Foundation and Better Place Forests
While we celebrate impressive milestones in our work, our dedication to natural resource conservation continues to drive further progress. Collaborating with driven foundations like the National Forest Foundation keeps the momentum moving forward.
We envision a long working partnership with NFF to protect forestland for years to come. “We really want Americans to connect with their natural spaces,” says Dayle. “When they recognize all the benefits that those spaces provide, that’s when they start caring about them and making sure that resources are put towards maintaining those lands.” Preserving our natural resources serves as a ripple effect: we can see how they’re closely connected and depend on and benefit from one another. For Dayle and Better Place Forests, this is one of the most promising ways to guarantee a healthy and thriving future for our forests and their surrounding communities.
We’re proud to protect this iconic Flagstaff forest and offer families a meaningful final resting place. On June 19th, we will begin welcoming families to the Flagstaff forest for in-person tours. If you’d like to see Better Place Forests Flagstaff today, book a free online forest tour to find out what makes this forest truly unique.