West Virginia, rich in beauty and history, celebrates Arbor Day

It’s hard to think about West Virginia without John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Road” coming to mind. The scenic beauty and hilly landscape give the state a certain lore.

Today, the Mountain State celebrates Arbor Day, as it always does the second Friday in April. While a number of communities mark the holiday today, others will hold their activities later this month.

The Division of Forestry has more details here. Today, for example, more than 100 trees are being planted in Huntington at Ritter Park fountain.

In the Foundation’s 2012 West Virginia State Report, we highlighted Beverly Creel, a member from Parkersburg who has impressively been planting membership trees since 1988. Arbor Day Foundation members in West Virginia have planted 85,259 trees in total.

Harpers Ferry, pictured above, is heavily forested and a hotbed of history. The lower portion of the town is part of Harpers Ferry National Park, but the rest operates independently. It is best known by abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid during the Civil War. Today, many visit for both the history and for outdoor activities like hiking, rafting and biking. The Appalachian Trail also passes through Harpers Ferry.

The State of West Virginia is currently home to 15 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in West Virginia is Huntington, population 49,129; the smallest is Harpers Ferry, population 310.

Washington State has success in forestland protection to celebrate this Arbor Day

Aptly nicknamed The Evergreen State for its copious evergreen forests, Washington celebrates Arbor Day today, April 11.

This year’s Arbor Day celebration holds significant meaning to the State of Washington. Since an update in Washington state law in 2009, Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark has been in charge of battling disease, insects and fires that have “caused significant deterioration of forest conditions and widespread damage to trees throughout eastern Washington.”

Washington’s 2009 Forest Health Highlights reported that over 1.73 million acres of land contained elevated levels of tree mortality, tree defoliation or foliar diseases, and nearly 6.4 million trees were reported as killed.

The 2011 Forest Health Highlights revealed a significant decrease in the number of acres of land containing some level of tree mortality, defoliation or foliar disease (approximately 950,000), with 1.5 million trees reported as recently killed. Effective forestry management makes a difference.

Each year, Washington’s Department of Natural Resources recognizes Arbor Day, not just on April 11, but throughout the entire month. Communities all over Washington can recognize Arbor Day in their own way too. Some ideal examples of Washington’s best Arbor Day Observances in 2012 include the City of Lacey that promotes tree planting with an annual seedling giveaway. The Arbor Day observance in Bellevue is followed by a family festival, and the City of Gig Harbor offers free admission and trees to anyone who drops by their Arbor Day observance, which includes poster and poetry contests for students, environmental and art booths, tree planting at City Hall, children’s activities, live music and raffle drawings.

The State of Washington is currently home to 80 certified Tree City USA communities, accounting for more than 2.8 million Washington residents. The largest Tree City USA community in Washington is Seattle, population 563,374; the smallest is Hunts Point, population 450.

Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Missouri marks Arbor Day

The Show Me State also celebrates Arbor Day today. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the state has marked the holiday on the first Friday in April since 1886.

There are a lot of ways to celebrate. One is at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis (picture at right), which is giving away free seedlings to the first 600 visitors today.

The Department of Conservation has additional information and resources here.

Many Americans recall images of the horrible damage and devastation last year’s tornado wrought in the areas surrounding Joplin, Missouri. Months later, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the “toll of (the) tornado is told through Joplin’s trees” - namely, the fact that they’re not there. The Arbor Day Foundation will be distributing trees to residents on April 21 with the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center to help restore Joplin’s tree canopy to its pre-tornado strength.

You can donate to the Joplin Tree Recovery Campaign at arborday.org/joplin.

The State of Missouri is currently home to 80 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 2.4 million people. The largest Tree City USA community in Missouri is Kansas City, population 441,545; the smallest is Augusta, population 218.

It’s Arbor Day in Kentucky

Today is Arbor Day in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky tends to conjure up images of rolling hills and miles of green space. But the Commonwealth has a lot of green in its population centers as well.

Kentucky’s Division of Forestry has a great website extolling the benefits of urban forestry, noting that while many think of forests as being predominately rural in nature, one-half of Kentuckians live in an urban forest environment. Frankfort, the state’s capital pictured on the right, is heavily forested.

Increased tourism, reduced energy use and carbon dioxide emissions and community pride are among the benefits of urban forestry cited by Kentucky officials.

A number of communities across Kentucky commemorating their 10th and 20th consecutive years as a Tree City USA today.

Last year, the Arbor Day Foundation recognized Charles D. Williams of Munfordville, Kentucky, with a Good Steward Award. Williams, known as “Tree Man” to neighbors and friends, has planted trees on his 929-acre farm every Good Friday since 1976.

Later this month, the Foundation will announce that Dr. James Middleton, a friend of Williams and a fellow Munfordville resident, will receive the 2012 Good Steward Award.

The State of Kentucky is currently home to 28 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 1.5 million people. The largest Tree City USA community in Kentucky is Louisville, population 721,500; the smallest is Nazareth, population 300.

Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Arbor Week in Oregon ends Saturday

Add Oregon to the list of states that celebrate Arbor Day prior to the national holiday on the last Friday in April. The Beaver State is also among just a handful that celebrate the tree planting holiday for an entire week.

Oregon has a special combination of both traditional forests and well-maintained urban forests, a point noted by Paul Ries, head of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

“Trees are important to the quality of life here in Oregon, where we have some of the most productive forestland in the world and some of the most livable cities around,” he said.

The Douglasfir, Oregon’s state tree, blankets Tillamook State Forest, which was established as a result of large reforestation efforts following wildfires in the 1930s and 1940s. Oregon foresters are currently planting 60,000 trees to diversify the tree canopy and reduce the risk of the large Douglasfir population falling victim to disease.

The City of Portland is home to a 5.5 acre, traditional Japanese garden that draws 200,000 visitors every year. The garden is pictured below, with the photo courtesy of Jonathan Ley and the Oregonian.

The Department of Forestry has highlighted several events, including tree planting events in Eugene and Portland, a poster contest for 4th and 5th graders in La Grande and Metolius and a waterfront weeding in Hood River.

The State of Oregon is currently home to 54 Tree City USA communities, accounting for nearly two million people. The largest Tree City USA in Oregon is Portland, population 550,560; the smallest is Echo, population 710.

Maryland celebrates Arbor Day, Governor O’Malley among Arbor Day Award winners to be announced this month

Marylanders celebrate Arbor Day today, though it’s easy to forget – they do do such a good job planting and celebrating trees throughout the year.

Governor Martin O’Malley, once dubbed a modern-day ‘Johnny Appleseed’ by his Gubernatorial colleagues, has a lot to do with that.

Under his Marylanders Plant Trees program, citizens have planted more than 75,000 trees in just three years – 25,000 every year. Governor O’Malley has challenged citizens to double that goal and plant 50,000 trees by the end of 2012.

Under the state’s Forest Brigade program, inmates in Maryland prisons have planted trees on the state’s public lands in 20 of Maryland’s 23 counties, as well as the City of Baltimore. The work was done by inmates on the pathway to release, giving them a leg up on potential job skills while working to beautify the state with new trees.

Governor O’Malley will be the recipient of the Vision Award from the Arbor Day Foundation later this month. More information on this year’s Arbor Day Award winners will be announced later this month, and all winners will participate in a ceremony at Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City on April 28.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources has a website containing Arbor Day history and ways Marylanders can celebrate.

The State of Maryland is currently home to 38 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 3.4 million people. The largest Tree City USA community in Maryland  is Prince George’s County, population 820,852; the smallest is Lock Lynn Heights, population 469.

Video is courtesy of the State of Maryland.

Nearly 150 colleges and universities named a 2011 Tree Campus USA

We are excited to announce that 148 colleges and universities were named a 2011 Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

That number is up about 30 percent compared to 2010, when 116 campuses received the designation. Tree Campus USA was launched in 2008 to honor and assist colleges and in promoting healthy trees and inspiring the next generation of environmental champions.

We’re grateful to have Toyota as a partner in this important effort.

The Foundation and Toyota are also sponsoring 13 tree planting events throughout the country this spring. Seven are supported by the AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the remaining six are supported by the historically black Greek organizations Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Los Angeles Valley College; Colorado State University; the University of South Florida; the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Kentucky; The Ohio State University; and The Catholic University of Ameirca are among the institutions named a Tree Campus USA for the first time.

The University of California, San Diego; Arizona State University; Northern Kentucky University; Michigan State University; the University of Texas; and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln are among the handful of campuses receiving the recognition for the fourth year in a row.

View the complete 2011 Tree Campus USA list here.

Today is also the last day to cast your vote for up to five of your favorite Tree Campus USA events at arbordaynow.org, with the winning campuses receiving a $1,000 prize from the Arbor Day Foundation. Currently, Virginia Tech and the University of Rochester are neck-and-neck with about 12,000 votes each, though up to five campuses can win.

Tomorrow is last day to vote for your favorite Tree Campus USA event

Tomorrow is the last chance to vote for up to five of your favorite Tree Campus USA events at arbordaynow.org, with the winning campuses receiving a $1,000 prize from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The $1,000 award must be used toward an Arbor Day celebration or service learning project involving college students and focusing on tree-planting or tree care. Winners will also receive up to 100 free t-shirts and signage for their event.

Ten campuses are in the running as finalists: American University, Arizona State University, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Elmhurst College, the University of Maryland, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the University of Rochester and Virginia Tech.

Participants in the poll can click on an individual campus to learn more about its current conservation and tree planting activities.

Students, faculty and staff are definitely mobilized – as of this afternoon, nearly 40,000 votes had been cast. Yesterday, the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, ran a story about the campus participation in the contest and encouraged people to vote.

Help these campuses recruit even more volunteers by voting today.

UPDATE: Virginia Tech’s student newspaper the Collegiate Times covered the contest this morning.