News Release

Forest Service and Potomac Nationals plant a tree for every broken baseball bat

April 24, 2013 -

The U.S. Forest Service and the Potomac Nationals are scheduled to plant 187 trees in a ceremony at an urban forest in Fairfax, Va., through a partnership with Fairfax ReLeaf  on Arbor Day, April 26.

Under the “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” program, for every bat they break, the Potomac Nationals, a Minor League Baseball team from Woodbridge, Va., pledge to plant a tree. Last year, the baseball players broke 187 bats.

“The Break a Bat, Plant a Tree program is a great way to raise awareness about forest restoration projects underway in D.C., Maryland and Virginia parks and trails,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We hope others will take a cue from this partnership to get out and plant – or just plain enjoy- a tree this Arbor Day.”

Planting a tree to shade one’s home is one of the most cost-effective ways to save energy and help the environment. The Forest Service’s free i-Tree software suite offers tools to help homeowners determine the best places to plant trees around their homes, and calculates the benefits of trees through time, based on species and location.

The “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” program is just the latest event in the Forest Service’s ongoing involvement with America’s pastime.

Baseball players breaking bats seemed to be the norm between 2001 and 2008, posing the possibility of serious injury to players and spectators. So in 2008, the Forest Products Laboratory located in Madison, Wis., and Major League Baseball partnered in order to look into the issue of bats breaking during games.

 Dave Kretschmann, a Forest Service researcher, led a team that tested hundreds of bats and recorded the details of every shattered bat in 2009 and 2010. With the implementation of the team’s recommendations on bat manufacturing, wood density and other factors, there’s been a 50 percent reduction in the rate of what researchers call “multiple-piece failures” since the 2008 season.

Multiple piece failure is more than just a cracked bat - it’s one that breaks into pieces, sometimes sending flying bits across the field. Broken bats have always been part of the game and always will be. But thanks to some changes in bat manufacturing regulations, like density and geometry restrictions, and with cooperation from Major League Baseball and the players union, the Forest Service has helped make the game a lot safer.

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.

For information about participating in the tree planting ceremony or media queries contact the Forest Service at (202) 205-1028.


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