Maine recognizes leading individuals and organizations during Arbor Week

Known as The Pine Tree State for the extensive pine forests that cover the state, Maine celebrated its Arbor Week 2012 during the third full week in May, May 20th – 26th.

This year, the Bangor Daily News highlighted Project Canopy, “a collaboration between the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine.” According to the Daily News:

Through projects such as supporting planting street trees downtown or a management plan development for town forests, Project Canopy works to help Maine communities stay leafy and green.

Project Canopy honored Arbor Week 2012 by awarding communities with grants for tree planting projects in their downtowns:

Grants were awarded to the City of Saco for elm trees and Japanese lilacs along the Route 1 business district; to Norway Downtown for additional trees in downtown; to the City of Belfast for red maples as part of the City’s Harbor Walk project; and to the City of Bath for a total of 45 trees in eight separate planting projects throughout the downtown.

You can find more information about Project Canopy here.

Photo Credit: eHow

The Maine Department of Conservation also “recognized the importance of trees in urban settings and the dedication of Maine communities to caring for those trees during its 2012 Maine Arbor Week Celebration.”

Held at the Longfellow Elementary School in Portland, the celebration “honored the civic devotion of several notable Maine residents,” including Robert and Beverly Dutton, owners of Dutton’s Nursery of Morrill. The Duttons donated more than 1,000 trees to 60 Maine communities and non-profits.

Arbor Day Foundation members from Maine have helped plant more than 82,960 trees across the state last year.

The State of Maine is currently home to 18 certified Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA community in Maine is Portland, population 64,000; the smallest is Castine, population 1,343.

New study links urban trees to lower crime

Many people have personal experience with the crime-fighting potential of urban trees.

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Brew.

Just ask the New Jersey Tree Foundation – recognized with an Arbor Day Award in 2011 for their tree-planting initiatives in some of the state’s toughest neighborhoods.

Now, a new study conducted in Maryland’s Baltimore County and City, provides numbers to back up what neighbors have already seen for themselves.

According to the study in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, the frequency of crime in both the City and County decreased as the number of trees increased. Overall, a ten percent increase in tree canopy was associated with a 12 percent drop in crime.

The State of Maryland has been pioneering in its support of urban forestry, due in large part to the leadership of Governor Martin O’Malley.

While proving a direct causation is nearly impossible to do, Baltimore officials and the study’s authors have speculated that the shading effect of a robust tree canopy both encourages neighbors to spend more time outside and offers the impression of a community where people take care of their surrounding and each other.

Both factors would be expected to push away gangs, drugs and other criminal activity.

Data like this offers yet another reminder of the importance of professional and well-funded urban forestry programs. According to the Baltimore Sun, the city arborist’s budget has been cut from $4.4 million to $2.9 million the last two years. Baltimore has recovered some of the money through the help of other agencies and non-profits, but imprudent budget cuts can easily lead to greater costs down the road.

In awarding the New Jersey Tree Foundation last year, we told the story of long-time Camden resident Sheila Roberts and the changes on her block that resulted from newly-planted trees.

“My neighborhood is now one of Camden’s most desired places to live,” she said. “People ask me all the time: ‘how did you do it?’ I always say the same thing: it all started with the trees.”

The Baltimore Sun has more about the study, which was co-authored by an ecologist from the U.S. Forest Service.

Arbor Day Foundation joins four partners in Missouri River cottonwood planting

Cottonwood trees are returning to the bank of the Missouri River.

Last week, a group of Nebraska City employees of the Arbor Day Foundation joined Nature Conservancy staff to plant 1,500 cottonwood seedlings along the river in southeast Nebraska, just north of Nebraska City. The two organizations are aided by the U.S. Forest Service and Nebraska Forest Service.

Lincoln-based Foundation employees participated in a similar planting earlier in the year.

Tyler Janke of the Nature Conservancy says cottonwoods were chosen because they are “tough” and grow quickly, even in the face of flooding.

“In a sense, cottonwoods are a pioneer species,” he said.

Cottonwoods are so resilient that they “essentially create their own microclimate,” Janke continued, “and they represent the beginnings of the forest community.”

And that’s exactly what we’re looking for – a chance to reforest and renew the ecosystem along the Missouri River, both in Nebraska and further downstream if we can. The new cottonwoods will make the area more sustainable and better able to withstand future flooding.

You can see the planting for yourself in this short video. Credit is due to Amy Stouffer, web content manager and e-communication specialist with the Foundation in Nebraska City, for preparing the footage and photographs.

Alaska plans Arbor Day around small window for spring planting

A little less than a month ago, Scoutmaster Duane Robison traveled to Nebraska to accept an Arbor Day Award on behalf of Boy Scout Troop 367 and Cup Scout Troop 367 for their  contribution to the 2011 Arbor Day Celebration in small-town Palmer.

Today, Palmer joins the Mat-Su Valley and the entire state of Alaska in marking the tree-planting holiday once more. Facing long and dark winters, Alaskans have a small window for getting new trees in the ground.

“We try to get the planting in when we can,” Robison said.

Last year, one hundred people came out for Palmer’s celebration from a variety of organizations. The youngest participant was a 7-year-old Tiger Cub from the Cub Scouts, who planted trees with a 97-year-old World War II veteran. The Scouts also helped establish a Veteran’s Grove in the heart of downtown Palmer and on the grounds of the local Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home.

Alaska’s Division of Forestry stresses that trees and forests are “important to our way of life in Alaska, and as our towns grow, the value of trees increases.”

According to the state forestry officials, some towns in Alaska have lost as much as 40 percent of their tree canopy, hindering the ability to maintain clean air, safe drinking water and quality-of-life. The state has two full-time urban forestry staffers and a 5-year blueprint for improved community tree management.

The State of Alaska is currently home to 8 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 388,293 people. The largest Tree City USA in Alaska is Anchorage, population 286,174; the smallest is Eielson Air Force Base, population 2,740.

Here is our video about Troop 367 and Pack 367 from last month’s award.

Washington Post surveys efforts to preserve pine trees and the ecosystem they support

One of last month’s recipients of a 2012 Arbor Day Award was the Greater Yellowstone Whitebark Pine Committee, a multi-agency partnership to alleviate threats to the critically endangered whitebark pine tree in America’s mountain west.

The stakes are high. Without sufficient action to keep pine trees vital, a major source of our nation’s fresh water is at risk.

Earlier this week, Washington Post environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin wrote about a variety of strategies the U.S. Forest Service has pursued to protect pine trees and the critical habitat they support. The challenge has been heightened by an increase in beetle infestation brought on by a warming climate

Drought, whitebark blister rust and competition with other tree species are related threats facing both the whitebark and several other species of pine.

The whitebark pine tree was recently determined to be warranted for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. A number of groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, are working toward getting the species officially added to that list.

According to Eilperin, federal officials are in a race against the climate to figure out how to best protect and preserve vital benefits.

Scientists know that global warming will reshape these forests, which provide crucial habitat and food for key species, curb soil erosion and slow melting snow destined for local water supplies. What they don’t yet understand is which trees are best poised to survive under these changed conditions and how they can help them adapt in the decades to come.

One strategy currently being pursued is the deployment of pheromones to send insects a false signal that a tree has already been mass-attacked, prompting the beetle to move on. “It’s like we draw them in and we tell them, ‘The hotel’s full,’” Jeff Witcosky, a Forest Service official, told Eilperin.

Another strategy Eilperin discusses is the collection and storage of seeds from high-elevation pine trees, one of the areas in which the Greater Whitebark Pine Committee has participated. The seeds are an insurance policy in case direct combat against infestation is unsuccessful.

Read the whole story here. And, check out our short video about the Greater Yellowstone Whitebark Pine Committee below.

List of 2012 Tree Line USA participants also available online

We have recently updated our webpage to include the 2012 recipients of Tree Line USA recognition.

A total of 145 utility providers have been named a Tree Line USA in honor of their commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in the their respective service areas.

Unlike Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA, which offer recognition for the previous calendar year, Tree Line USA rewards utilities for the year in progress.

Tree Line USA is a partnership between the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

Jacksonville Electric Authority of Jacksonville, Florida, and Avista Utilities of Washington State are among the providers being named a Tree Line USA for the first time. Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, Idaho Power Company and Arizona Public Service Company are among the providers that have been recognized for more than 15 years in a row.

These providers and dozens of others recognize the critical role trees play in the urban landscape. Their actions demonstrate that proper pruning and care of trees is good for business, customers and the broader community.

Winning utilities achieved the Tree Line USA by meeting five program standards:

  • Follow industry standards for quality tree care
  • Provide annual worker training in best tree-care practices
  • Sponsor a tree-planting and public education program
  • Maintain a tree-based energy conservation program, and
  • Participate in an Arbor Day celebration.

More information on the program and a complete list of winners can be found at If you do not see your local provider on the list, we encourage you to let them know about the program and ask them to apply.

Tree City USA website updated to reflect 2011 winners

Following months of reviewing applications and with Arbor Day behind us, we are now able to share an updated list of Tree City USA communities from the 2011 calendar year.

Tree City USA, now in its 36th year, is sponsored by the Foundation, the United States Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. The early support of the U.S. Forest Service was a major impetus behind their 2012 Arbor Day Award for A Legacy of Partnership.

The Tree City USA program boosts tremendous growth in participation and a near-perfect renewal rate. In order to become a Tree City USA, communities must maintain four standards:

  • A tree board of department
  • A tree care ordinance
  • A annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita
  • An Arbor Day observance and proclamation

As in previous years, communities that reach an even higher standard of urban forest management are recognized with a Tree City USA Growth America.

Check our website to find out if your community is a Tree City USA.

Partnerships central to Arbor Day Awards, inspiration for top honor to U.S. Forest Service

This year’s Arbor Day Awards, held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center on Saturday, April 28, took on a special meaning due to the 40 the anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation and the 140th year of the tree planting holiday.

John Rosenow, founder and chief executive, noted that the first Arbor Day Awards were presented on the east portico of Arbor Lodge in 1972.

“A lot has happened in the tree planting world in the four decades since – both extraordinary accomplishments, and trends best reversed,” he said, echoing similar themes from an op-ed published in the Dallas Morning News the previous day.

The Arbor Day Foundation has been able to make progress on replanting in our nation’s forests, investing in effective management of community trees and other priorities in the past 40 years because of our strong partners. The invaluable contribution of Foundation partners was the inspiration behind our highest honor this year: A Legacy of Partnership Award for the United States Forest Service.

With the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, the U.S. Forest Service in 1976 launched Tree City USA to provide resources and recognition to communities for sustained investments in tree management and care. Today, more than 140 million Americans in 3,500 communities live in a Tree City USA.

The U.S. Forest Service has supported the planting of 24 million trees in more than 60 of our national forests, in partnership with the Foundation. The agency was also instrumental in the construction of Lied Lodge and Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm, where many of the Foundation’s core principles come to life.

The U.S. Forest Service was represented at the Arbor Day Awards by Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon, who was one of only two speakers during the presentation – Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was the other.

The short film prepared by the Foundation speaks to our enduring partnership, as well as the agency’s work with local stakeholders in its earlier years conserving land for future generations and collaborations with the Civilian Conservation Corps and Veterans Administration to create jobs.

You read more about all 16 of our 2012 Arbor Day Award winners and watch the short videos we put together here.

North Dakota celebrates International Peace Garden, Vermont replants trees lost in Hurricane Irene

North Dakota

Nicknamed the “Peace Garden State” for being home to the International Peace Garden (a 2,339 acre Botanical Garden straddling the international Boundary between North Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba), the State of North Dakota honors Arbor Day today, the first Friday in May.

Photo Credit: Sterling News

The City of Fargo will honor Arbor Day with a tree planting by local elementary students and volunteers. The locations for the celebrations vary and include school grounds, parks city streets, bike trails and hiking areas. Bismarck will recognize Arbor Day by dedicating ceremonial Arbor Day trees to local citizens whose efforts have made a significant contribution to Bismarck’s urban forest.

According to the North Dakota Forest Service, the 2012 State Arbor Day Celebration will also honor the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts by planting a “Girl Scout Grove” at the International Peace Garden. Opened in 1932, the International Peace Garden claims to be the longest unguarded border in the world. This event offers the North Dakota Forest Service an opportunity to recognize the Girl Scouts for their many years of hands-on tree planting accomplishments.

It is fitting for the Girls Scouts to celebrate their centennial at the International Peace Garden since they were involved in its dedication in 1932.

You can find more information about the Girl Scouts Centennial, here.

Arbor Day Foundation members have helped plant more than 33,662 trees across the state last year. The State of North Dakota is currently home to 46 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in North Dakota is Fargo, population 99,200; the smallest is Pekin, population 80.


During the fall, Vermont’s trees attract tourists from all over the United States who come to see the brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange foliage. Known as the “Green Mountain State” for its green, forest-covered mountains, Vermont also recognizes Arbor Day today.

Photo Credit: PRWeb

The Vermont Division of Forestry offers a variety of activities for Arbor Day 2012. Vermont students (grades 1-8th) can engage in learning about trees through the “Growing Works of Art” contest. This competition is meant to enrich students’ knowledge about Vermont’s trees and provide students with an opportunity to author what will become a set of trading cards to be collected by students across the state.  You can learn more about the Growing Works of Art contest, here.

Vermont also hosts a unique activity called the “Arbor Day Passport.”  Students (grades K-8th) complete a certain number of workbook projects to receive prizes such as a set of Tree Trading Cards or a Vermont State Parks day use pass. Learn more here.

Over the past year, Hurricane Irene caused some of the worst flooding Vermont had seen in 83 years. As a result of the tropical storm, many trees were blown down or damaged and had to be trimmed or taken down. Vermont was the first state to designate a day to clean up the entire state known as, “Green Up Day.”

This year, The State Irene Recovery Office has partnered with Green Up Vermont to incorporate Irene recovery activities into Green Up Day, creating the Green Up to Recover initiative. If you’re interested in being involved with the tree-planting or other environmental volunteer opportunities associated with Green Up Day, you can find more information here.

Arbor Day Foundation members have helped plant more than 65,715 trees across the state last year.  The State of Vermont is currently home to 8 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in Vermont is Burlington, population 39,348; the smallest is Peacham, population 668.


Governor O’Malley tells fellow Arbor Day Award winners “reversing deforestation is complicated; planting a tree is simple”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was among the 16 organizations and individuals honored with an Arbor Day Award this past weekend.

He received the inaugural Vision Award, in recognition of his extraordinary work promoting urban and forestland conservation and planting.

The Governor stressed the importance of planting trees in his acceptance speech on Saturday in Nebraska City, recalling the story of the child who asks her grandfather about the best time to plant a tree.

Her grandfather says, “Well, it takes time for those roots to go deep and for branches to spread… and so the most important time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.” And the little girl asks, “Well, when is the next best time to plant a tree?” The grandfather responds:”Right now.”

He also put his own spin on the often ideologically charged term “pro-growth,” broadening it to include growth in opportunity, quality-of-life and the enjoyment of earth’s bounty. “In Maryland,” the Governor said, “we consider ourselves pro-growth Americans.”

You see, we believe in growing jobs, and growing opportunity. Like you, we believe in children growing healthy, growing educated, and growing strong. We believe in grandparents growing old with dignity and love. Like you we believe in growing trees, growing stream buffers, growing food for a hungry world.

Governor O’Malley shared his remarks on the Huffington Post yesterday. Below is the video the Foundation put together detailing his accomplishments.