From 2003 through summer 2012, Acme Brick Company has planted over 550,000 trees at 18 locations - thirteen in Arkansas, four in Texas and one in Mississippi as part of their Reforestation Program. Another 40,350 trees are to be planted in this year, the 10th year of the program.
The project was conceived and developed by Rick Hice, Regional Engineer in Acme's Malvern, Arkansas office. Mr. Hice also spearheaded the development of Acme's Wetlands project in Arkansas that uses aquatic plants in filtration ponds to increase the ph of naturally acidic runoff water.
Scientists have estimated that, over its life, the average tree removes 50 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. That means that in 2012 alone, the trees of the region's 10-year program will remove more than 13,700 “tons” (27.5 million pounds) of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And that number of pounds will continue to grow as the trees mature and as more acres are planted. Many scientists consider carbon dioxide a "greenhouse gas" that contributes to warming temperatures. In addition, the tree plantings contribute aesthetically to the acreage and provide abundant wildlife habitat. “We see a significant increase in deer and smaller mammals such as squirrels and rabbits at these sites and of course many bird species.” said Hice. He added that, “one of the biggest benefits is the improvement to the watershed area because soil erosion is greatly reduced. In fact the Federal government has programs that will pay individuals to do this type of planting on private land but it is not available to companies.”
Dennis Knautz, President and CEO of Acme Brick Company (L) presents Acme's Environmental Award to Rick Hice, a Regional Engineer with Acme who developed the Reforestation Program.
The preferred type of tree is the improved loblolly pine due to it having a 13% increase in carbon uptake ability compared to other types of trees. The land involved is several thousand acres and is property Acme holds for future development of the clay reserves and other sites where mining has occurred. The normal success rate for plantings is a high 80 to 90%, and failed seedlings are replaced the following year.
Dennis Knautz, CEO and President of Acme Brick said, “It's amazing to see what happens when a company harnesses the power of nature. To go back and look at these sites before trees were planted and see them now full of life and beauty is a tribute to the decade-long commitment by Rick Hice and his team. This is a true win/win for everyone involved and for the environment.”