In the Green Bay Packers 2016 regular season they completed 349 first downs, 20 more than their opponents. This is one of many impressive statistics the Packers have. This particular state is even more rousing because of a green initiative titled “First Downs for Trees.”
First Downs for Trees is a cooperative effort between the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), and the Wisconsin DNR, along with Packers sponsors SCA and Green Bay Packaging. The program has donated trees to participating Brown County communities based on the number of first downs gained by the Packers in the previous season, for the past seven years. “The program was created to reduce the carbon footprint produced by the team,” remarked Mark Murphy, CEO of the Green Bay Packers. On average, NFL teams produce more than 450 tons of carbon dioxide per year in travel. The donated trees not only help the Packers offset their carbon footprint, they increase the urban forest canopy, improve water quality and a plethora of other social, environmental and economic benefits to Brown County urban areas.
“The over 4000 trees that have been planted since the inception of this partnership will provide over $20 million in benefits over the lifespan of the trees,” said Murphy. This year 477 trees will be planted in Allouez. The first of the trees was a Swamp White Oak planted in Green Isle Park, the largest park in Allouez. Jim Rafter, Allouez Village President, is honored to have “First Downs” trees planted in his community again. These trees will help Allouez maintain TCUSA (Tree City USA) status. TCUSA is a program that recognizes communities making an effort to increase and maintain community trees. Communities such as Allouez are working tirelessly to actively manage and diversify their urban forests. Programs such as “First Downs for Trees” and the corporate sponsors, SCA and Green Bay Packaging, make those efforts easier.
Both Jeff Walsh, of Green Bay Packaging, and Carry Schuster, of SCA, expressed the importance of sustainability to their companies at this year’s media event. By sponsoring the Packers these companies blazon sustainability and help by providing trees to Brown County communities through this program.
First Downs for Trees is a green initiative that benefits both the Packers and the communities that support them. It not only mitigates the carbon footprint of a professional sports team, but also provides thousands of dollars of benefits to the community. Cheer for the Packers in their upcoming season to help plant more trees in the community.
For more information contact Tracy Salisbury (Tracy.Salisbury@Wisconsin.gov), Urban Forestry Regional Coordinator.