As a part of our approach to sustainability, AMP is committed to reducing the environmental impacts of our operations, including our carbon footprint. AMP is investing in cost-effective carbon offset projects – with an emphasis on reforestation – to begin to “offset” a portion of the emissions of our fossil generation.

Carbon offsets can be created when specific, measureable actions are undertaken that result in reduced emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The accumulation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, whether naturally occurring or the result of burning fossil fuels, is viewed by some as contributing to global climate change. By reducing – or “offsetting” – emissions of CO2 from our electric generation operations, AMP is demonstrating our commitment to sustainability.

AMP is working with states, communities, and private entities in our member footprint states to identify, evaluate, and develop appropriate carbon offset projects that use the natural growth process of trees to hold (or “sequester”) CO2 in the living wood, roots, and forest soils, thus preventing its escape to the atmosphere. Based on the process of photosynthesis (see diagram), trees can provide an excellent source of carbon offsets. Specific scientific protocols have been established to measure the accumulation of carbon in trees (based on species, age, climate, and other criteria), and AMP will be using these to certify any future carbon offsets that are expected to result from our forestry carbon projects.

 

One focus of AMP’s reforestation / forestry carbon offset projects is to return former strip-mined lands to forests, which, in addition to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, can provide additional benefits to local areas. These include visual esthetics as well as improved habitat for wildlife, water quality, and recreational areas. Also, AMP is working with university scientists and foresters in an effort to reestablish the American chestnut as a key species in appropriate areas. Studies have shown that one hybrid strain of the American chestnut is particularly suited to the higher soil acidity generally found on former strip-mined lands. Once ubiquitous throughout forests in the Eastern U.S., the American chestnut nearly became extinct due to a pervasive blight in the early 1900s. The American Chestnut Foundation is a leader in efforts to re-introduce the hybrids back into the historic range of the American chestnut.

 

Red Oaks

The red oak is one of the largest and most important timber trees. One of the fastest growing of the oaks, it attains a height to 80 feet and a diameter of two to three feet. Bristle-tipped leaves turn red in the fall. The leaves have 7 to 11 waxy lobes. Contain tannin, a substance that makes the leaves leathery and hinders decomposition. The fruit is a large, broad, rounded acorn with a very shallow disk-like or saucer-shaped cup or cap. Grows as much as two feet a year for 10 years. Grows to 60′ to 75′, 45′ spread.

Black Oaks

The black oak is a common, medium-sized to large oak tree, 60 to 80 feet tall and one to two feet in diameter, with a wide and irregularly shaped crown. It is sometimes called yellow oak, quercitron, yellowbark oak, or smoothbark oak. The inner bark is bright yellow and bitter to the taste, because of the tannic acid it contains. The leaves are single, 5 to 7 lobed, bristle-tipped, 5 to 10 inches long and 3 to 6 inches wide. The lobes are sometimes shallow and sometimes deeply lobed, the shape varying greatly. They are dark green and shiny above and pale beneath, with rusty brown hairs in the forks of the leaf veins.

White Oaks

The white oak is one of the most important, largest, longest-lived and most valuable timber trees. It grows to 100 feet in to 4 feet in diameter. In the timber it forms a tall, straight tree, but in the open it is wide and spreading. The single leaves are 4 to 7 inches long and about half as broad, deeply divided into seven to nine rounded, fingerlike lobes. The young leaves are a soft, silvery gray or yellow to red when unfolding, later becoming bright green above and much paler be low. The leaves contain tannin and turn orange-red, crimson, and red-purple, then fade to brown in the fall and may remain on the tree into winter.

Hard Maples

The hard maple (sugar maple, rock maple) is one of the largest and finest forest trees, growing to a height of 60 to 80 feet with a diameter of 2 or more feet and a longevity of 200-300 years. The tree produces a dense, round, compact crown when grown in the open and is used quite extensively as a shade or ornamental tree. In the fall the yellow, red and crimson colors of the leaves form a very showy and beautiful part of the landscape. It is the best of the maples for production of maple syrup and sugar. The leaves are three to five lobed, but usually five lobed. The lobes are deeply cut with rounded divisions between the lobes, dark green above and pale green with a silvery cast below. Similar to other maples, the fruit is a pair of winged seeds about 1 inch long. The seeds ripen in the autumn.

Sycamores

The sycamore is a hardy deciduous tree. It grows from 70 to 100 feet tall with a spread between 60 and 80 feet. They are typically broad and round and make great shade trees. The sycamore tree has 6-inch-long, 5-lobed, coarsely toothed leaves, dark green, and yellowish-green flowers in hanging clusters. Also known as sycamore maple or mock plane. Living sycamore trees can reach ages of five hundred to six hundred years. The deciduous sycamore is fast growing and sun-loving, “growing seventy feet in seventeen years” on a good site. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Native Americans used sycamore for medicinal purposes, including cough and cold relief.