Super Bowl Cities – Urban Forestry Match Up

The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will vie for the 2014 Super Bowl title in this year’s game. The two teams are each respectively the top in their conference.  Seattle’s strong defense against Denver’s top offense isn’t the only match up worthy of consideration. Both cities were recognized in American Forests 2013 10 Best Cities for Urban Forests. With restless anticipation looming in the air for the Feb. 2 showdown, we examine Seattle’s and Denver’s urban forests in a matchup of our own.

Denver

denver-skyline-mountains_featured-420x223[1]With a population of more than 600,000, the mile high city offers more than just scenic landscapes. Denver’s urban forest shades nearly 20% of the city with 2.2 million trees. So how do these trees benefit city dwellers? Well for starters, Denver’s park systems increased property value by $31 million. More trees also mean greater energy savings, equivalent to more than $6.7 million annually.

A survey of 600 Denver residents revealed that Denver’s parks contributed $65 million in health savings by increasing physical activity and lowering medical expenses.

In addition, Denver has been designated a Tree City USA for 27 years, and was awarded the prestigious Tree City USA Growth Award twice for its increased commitment in urban forestry.

Seattle

skyline[1]Let’s see how Seattle stacks up. Like Denver, Seattle has a population of more than 600,000. Seattle is home to more than 4 million trees with 23% tree canopy coverage. Not only is Seattle doing a superb job of maintaining its community forest, but they continually strive to improve, with a goal to reach 30% tree canopy coverage by the year 2037. Not to mention, the city’s tree canopy reduces energy usage by $6 million annually.

The overall benefit of Seattle’s trees is such that their replacement value is estimated at $5 billion. That’s a significant sum.

Seattle has also received Tree City USA designation for 28 years, and has been awarded the Tree City USA Growth Award 17 times. In addition, Seattle City Light —the city’s foremost public utility company providing electrical power to the city— has been recognized as a 2013 Tree Line USA Utility.

Any city that prides itself on its community forestry efforts is worth celebrating. We admire what Seattle and Denver are doing both on the field, and off. Which city do you think earns the title in our first annual Urban Forestry Match Up?

All Eyes soon to be on Groundhog Celebrity Punxsutawney Phil, near forest treasure Cook Forest State Park

February 2 marks Groundhog Day, a Pennsylvania tradition to predict the arrival of spring. According to folklore, if the groundhog spots his shadow after coming out of winter hibernation, then winter will go on for another six weeks. If he comes out of his hole and doesn’t spot it, then it’s a sign that spring is on the horizon. The town of Punxsutawney, PA—where Groundhog Day originated—celebrates the tradition with an annual festival, awaiting the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, the towns’ groundhog.

hillside_parkinfo[1]Pennsylvania boasts more than just Groundhog Day; it is also home to Cook Forest State Park—one of America’s top 50 state parks according to National Geographic Traveler. More than 8,500 acres of its breathtaking terrain stretch across northwestern Pennsylvania, sheltering some of America’s finest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock timber strands. Cook Forest State Park is also the first Pennsylvania State Park to be recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Bordered by the Clarion River, Cook Forest State Park encompasses a mixture of natural landscapes including rivers, rolling hills, and mountains.

Nine old growth forest areas are situated within Cook Forest State Park. The most popular are Swamp, Seneca, Cathedral, and Cook Trails. The old growth forests are remnants of ancient trees that appeared after a drought and fire back in 1644. Cook Forest State Park has some of the oldest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock tree, dating back 370 years.dcnr_008364[1]

The Forest Cathedral Natural Area is one of the largest old growth forests of White Pine and Eastern Hemlock trees in Pennsylvania. Several of the pines exceed three feet in diameter and rise 200 feet. Trees that grand are nicknamed “William Penn Trees” because they’re more likely to be 300 or more years old, and date back to the era of William Penn, the first governor of “Penn’s Woods.” The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods,” was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land.”  The Forest Cathedral has been designated for protection as a state park natural area.

Some other ancient tree species hidden in the forest include strands of Red and White Oaks, Red Maple, and Black Cherry trees.

Icreek-620x300[1]n addition to the remarkable trees Cook Forest State Park boasts, the forest garners another treasure. Nestled within the Seneca old growth forest area are the remains of a natural mineral spring that produced waters with white sulfur and iron. The spring was believed to possess healing powers and was so popular in the 1900s that a boardwalk encased by gaslights was lit 24 hours a day so visitors could bathe and drink from the spring.

Cook Forest State Park is one marvel worth visiting. If you should ever find yourself in northwestern Pennsylvania, go explore the towering trees that adorn the area and allow yourself to be mesmerized by the daunting beauty of this National Natural Landmark.

Houston Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. While Texas as a state celebrates Arbor Day in November, the City of Houston – the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States – implements its own tradition and observes Arbor Day in January.

Mayor_Parker_and_Téo[1]Last year marked the 27th annual Arbor Day celebration for the City of Houston, sponsored by Apache Corporation, the Memorial Park Conservancy, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

Thousands of volunteers gathered to plant 25,000 trees in four parks heavily affected by the 2011 drought. The project, titled Re-Plant Houston, is a multiyear effort to replace the trees lost in the parks as a result of the drought. Approximately 18,800 of those trees were planted at Memorial Park. This tree planting was unique in that it also was a celebration of Apache having helped to make possible the planting of three million trees at Memorial Park.

“Apache has been involved with the growth of Houston’s Urban Forest for many years. Their continuing support has been even more significant since the 2011 drought,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The planting of their 3 millionth tree in Memorial Park is a symbol of their commitment and of our city’s appreciation for their support of Houston’s Urban Forest.”

Aside from Houston’s 4f1c07616bbcc.image[1]official celebration, several other organizations within the city and surrounding areas held events too. The Woodlands observed Arbor Day with a tree give-away, handing out a whopping 31,000 trees to attendees. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center celebrated Johnny Appleseed with family activities that included making recycled paper hats and a tree planting demonstration.

We applaud Houston’s dedication to reforesting its local parks and greenspaces. Last year’s event reminded us that everything truly is bigger in Texas.

Louisiana Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. With Arbor Day approaching, we take a look back at some of Louisiana’s Tree City USA Arbor Day observances.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer[1]Baton Rouge has made it a tradition to celebrate Arbor Day with family activities at Burden Museum and Gardens. Visitors had the opportunity to plant a tree in the Burden woods, participate in a 5k hike, or a scavenger hunt. Participants who participated in the tree planting were given a card with the tree’s name and its GPS coordinates so they could monitor the growth of the trees they planted. Other family activities included hayrack rides, bonfires, and tree climbing. In addition to planting a tree in the Burden woods, each family left with a tree seedling to plant at home. The seedlings were provided by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.3762611_orig[1]

The city of Lafayette teamed up with Lafayette Garden Club in an annual Arbor Day planting ceremony at a local green space. The Lafayette Garden Club donated the Live Oak tree in honor of recently deceased members and spouses. The ceremony also included a reading of What is a Tree by the Garden Club chair.

NIMG_0323[1]ew Orleans celebrated Arbor Day with a tree planting in Brechtel Park. Brechtel Park features trails, lagoons, shelters, and play areas. The event was hosted by the Department of Parks and Westbank Algiers Garden clubs.

This year the state of Louisiana will recognize Arbor Day by planting 260 Baldcypress and Southern Magnolia along I-49 and LA 530. The trees were donated by an Apache Corporation Tree Grant, and shrubs and grasses donated by TreesAcadiana. The trees will serve as a welcoming sign for those traveling into the state.

Florida Celebrates Arbor Day in January

While the national Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region. Celebrating Arbor Day helps educate the public about the value of trees. Florida and Louisiana kick off the year with state wide-celebrations on the third Friday in January. With Arbor Day approaching, we take a look back at some of Florida’s Tree City USA Arbor Day observances.

DSCN2701[1]Punta Gorda is not only a Tree City USA, but also recipient of the 2013 Arbor Day Celebration Award. Award winners are recognized for their leadership in the cause of tree planting, conservation, and environmental stewardship. The city of 17,000 led a tree planting event involving 300 Punta Gorda first graders. The students learned firsthand the vital role trees play in communities.

The city has also been recognized with the prestigious Tree City USA Growth Award for the past 10 years for its continued progress in community forestry. Punta Gorda serves as a leading model of what cities of all sizes can achieve when they make urban forestry a community priority.

703691_529601900396810_1703913630_o[1]As part of an annual tradition, Orange County, Florida celebrated Arbor Day last year with a tree planting ceremony in front of the County Administration Center. In attendance were the members of the Board of County Commissioners.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs encouraged every Orange County resident to plant a tree to benefit their community and future generations.

Last year the city of Miami planted 100 trees along residential streets. The city partnered with local organizations including The Miami Children’s Initiative, Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Citizens for a Better South Florida, Operation Green Leaves, and Tremendous Miami.

The city has a goal of increasing its tree canopy to 30% by 2020 through its Tree Master Plan, adopted by the Miami City Commission in 2007. The city implemented the “Green Miami Campaign” to encourage neighborhood groups and individuals to plant trees and preserve the city’s tree canopy.

large_4098[1]Tampa celebrated Arbor Day by planting three American Elm trees in MacFarlane Park with the help of MacFarlane Elementary School students. The city’s Tree-mendous Tampa Program was established in 1997 to enhance neighborhoods and help sustain Tampa’s urban forest and shade canopy.

Cities aren’t the only ones with a focus on tree-plantings. The Florida Forest Service is also a recipient of the 2013 Arbor Day Award. The Florida Forest Service was honored with the Forest Lands Leadership Award, in respect to its contribution to conservation and land stewardship. The Florida Forest Service plants millions of trees every year, manages complex ecosystems, and has been aggressive in combating forest fires.  Floridians are setting a great example in growing awareness of the importance of environmental conservation.