Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day

The simple act of planting a tree will have a positive impact for generations to come. In the words of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, “Other holidays repose upon the past, Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Here are 10 ideas of how you can celebrate Arbor Day:

17_Fruit_saplings[1]Have a game night with tree trivia, winner gets a tree seedling

Hold a picnic in a park, or take a nature hike

Learn your state tree

Invite friends over for a movie nightIMG_4700[1] and watch a film that features trees with pumpkin spice cupcakes (or some spice derived from trees)

Send an Arbor Day e-card to friends & family

Bake an Arbor Day inspired dish (or whole meal) using spices and other ingredients produced entirely by trees

9512239-large[1]Sign up to a neighborhood recycling program or find a recycling center and pledge to recycle paper and cardboard

Upcycle your tree clippings, there are other ways to use them in addition to your garden

Collect leaves, put tempera paint on DSC_7859[1]them and make leaf prints

Buy a What Tree Is That pocket field guide and see how many trees you can identify in your neighborhood

Tennessee and North Carolina Celebrate Arbor Day in March

Arbor 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.

Tennessee and North Carolina share more than just a border, they both celebrate Arbor Day the first Friday of March. We take a look back at how some of their Tree City USA communities have observed the tradition.

North Carolina

Charlotte—A recognized Tree City USA community for 34 years—observed Arbor Day with city officials planting two oak trees in a local park in honor of the retiring president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

Greensboro—A recognized Tree City USA community for 23 years and Growth Award recipient for eight years—observed Arbor Day with a tree planting commemorating the 45th anniversary of Greensboro Beautiful. arbor20day.jpgGreensboro Beautiful is a nonprofit volunteer organization with the mission to conserve and enhance the beauty and ecology of the Greensboro community through public and private cooperation.

More than 150 volunteers gathered to plant 45 trees across various parts of downtown Greensboro. Each tree was tagged to show the positive financial impact it has on the environment duing the next 15 years.

Tennessee

Nashville—A recognized Tree City USA community for 18 years—commemorated Arbor Day with a memorial tree dedication in honor of four city officials. The city also acknowledged National Electric Service for its fifth year of being designated as a Tree Line USA utility company.nashville

Knoxville—A recognized Tree City USA community for 23 years and Growth Award recipient for five years—was granted the opportunity to host the state’s official Arbor Day celebration last year because its tree board was recognized as the state’s Tree Board of the Year in 2012. The celebration included an Arbor Day skit performed by local students.

Knoxville earned the state award for its work in completing the city’s first tree inventory and management plan for public property. The city plants about 350 new trees every year in addition to the thousands it currently manages.

If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of either state’s tree canopy, you might consider hiking the Appalachian Trail, where several miles of terrain fall along the North Carolina-Tennessee Border. Visitors can take in the miles of Oaks, Maples, and Firs that adorn the region.

Georgia Celebrates Arbor Day in February

ArborWhile 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. Georgia is one of three states to celebrate Arbor Day in February, observing the tradition the third Friday of the month. We take a look back at how two of Georgia’s Tree City USA communities celebrated Arbor Day.

Atlanta—a Tree City USA for 27 consecutive years and five time Growth Award recipient—8701310439_80987c8ab5_z[1]observed Arbor Day with a weekend of tree plantings along the East Side Trail in Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic District of the Atlanta Beltline, a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails, and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad strip connecting 45 neighborhoods. City arborists lead project teams that planted 314 trees.

The trees will help to establish the Atlanta Beltline as one of the world’s longest linear arboretums. The city made it a priority to include parks and trails in the redevelopment.

The City of Macon—a Tree City USA for 28 consecutive years and 15 time Growth Award recipient— organized a tree planting in the Pleasant Hill Community Garden. Jsow4.AuSt.71[1]The community garden provides fresh vegetables to seniors and physically challenged residents, and has produced an astonishing 4,000 pounds of organic vegetables in its nine year existence, including collard greens, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes. Community organizers had been hoping to plant fruit trees in the garden for years, and as a result of last year’s tree planting, members can now partake in the bounty provided by 30 different kinds of fruit and nut-bearing trees.

The community garden, which is maintained by local area youth, helps to educate the public on the importance of nutritious eating, and the effort required to preserve such spaces.

Georgia is setting a fine example of how cities can implement environmental stewardship within their communities through proactive planning. Atlanta and Macon each found ways to bring the public together for the common good. Trees have a phenomenal way of bringing people together, and helping to build community.

Mississippi Celebrates Arbor Day in February

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 Mississippi observing Arbor Day the second Friday in February, we take a look at how some of its Tree City USA communities are celebrating the tradition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABiloxi, MS—a recognized Tree City USA for 29 years— observes Arbor Day with annual 5K,1 mile and-1/4 mile charity runs, jogs, walks and rolls hosted by the City of Biloxi, Disability Connection, and Gulf Coast Running Club. The proceeds from the run help programs that support individuals with disabilities. Last year’s run assisted the first Disability Connection Community Playground which opened at Gulfport’s Bruce Ladner Memorial Park. Following the race, participants received trees for planting at home in honor of Arbor Day. Combining nature with a philanthropic cause is a unique way to celebrate Arbor Day.

21088079_BG2[1]Meridian celebrated Arbor Day with a traditional tree planting in a local park. The Meridian Tree Commission donated five pecan trees to mark the occasion. The Apache Foundation provided trees for planting at home to those attending the event.

Hattiesburg observed Arbor Day with their annual Arbor Day tree planting. Each year, the city chooses a school and plants a tree on their campus. This year a tree was planted at Earl Travillion Attendance Center. The annual tradition includes an Arbor Day Proclamation delivered by the mayor, a presentation of Arbor Day Appreciation awards, and concludes with a tree planting.

arbor_day2012_contest[1]The Mississippi Urban Forest Council, in partnership with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the USDA Forest Service, and the Southern Group of State Foresters holds an annual statewide Arbor Day poster contest encouraging students to illustrate a poster that incorporates the current year’s theme — the benefits to humans, including the social benefits, that trees provide. Winners receive statewide recognition and cash prizes.

Additionally, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science holds an Arbor Day celebration consisting of hands-on activities for kids with appearances by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, a live animal program, and scuba diver fish feeding.

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.

Urban Forestry Plan is Key to Weathering the Storm

Let’s face it: no one likes to think about natural disasters, with their potential for devastation of our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and livelihoods. We’ve shared on this blog before about some of the communities hit hardest in recent years by natural disasters, and told the inspiring stories of citizens returning hope and healing to the places they call home.

Even still, there’s simply no way around it. Natural disasters are a fact of life.

When a natural disaster strikes a community, trees are invariably involved and many

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

times on the losing end of the event. Using the framework of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program, sound urban forestry management has proven essential to loss prevention and recovery of our treasured trees.

The scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring and that, in many cases, it is making natural disasters worse. Any planning to mitigate disasters should also include planning to reduce human-caused acceleration or magnification of climate change.

According to a survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nearly three-quarters of U.S. cities are now seeing environmental shifts that can be linked to climate change. More than 1,000 city leaders have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A healthy canopy of trees plays an important role in this effort. Trees need to be considered a vital part of every city’s infrastructure – right alongside the bridges, roads, sewers, electrical, and telecommunication grids – and appreciated for the natural workhorses that they are. For proof, one need not look further than the great role trees play in taming stormwater runoff during and immediately following natural disasters.

Sound urban forestry management through the framework of the Tree City USA program has been proven to be essential time and again. In fact, green infrastructure is the only part of a city’s infrastructure that actually increases in value and service over time.

Whether for preventative measures or recovery efforts, here are four key ideas your community needs for the best possible outcomes:

  • Communities with an established budget for tree care are in a better position than those that must compete for grants or appropriations. If your community is a recognized TreeCity USA, your community allocates the standard minimum of $2 per capita in a community forestry program.
  • Be prepared with an emergency management plan – and even better if it specifically includes a storm contingency plan. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a matter of IF you’ll need it, but rather WHEN you will.
  • Take time to “get it right” after a disaster. As in most things, it’s far better to move slowly with deliberate, well thought-out decisions and wise judgment than to rush into hasty action. This is particularly important when considering where reconstruction efforts will take place across a community and where trees should be replaced.
  • Lean on the expertise of your local tree board and their extensive list of contacts. These people will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to actually do the work of replanting trees.

For more information on best practices and ways your community can recover from natural disasters, see Tree City USA Bulletin #68.

Donate Now: Plant trees where they’re needed most.

 

Treating Trees: Good Advice from a Girl Scout

Here at the Arbor Day Foundation, we have members, advocates, and supporters from all walks of life, representing all corners of the globe, and encompassing all ages.

In part, that’s because the good work of planting and caring for trees spans all boundaries – physical, geographical, socio-economic, and many others.

And we love hearing from these advocates. They’re caring, passionate people who lead interesting lives and who have wonderful stories to tell.

This week, our Member Services team received an email from a young lady in Newark, New Jersey, named Victoria Ribeiro.

Girl ScoutsVictoria is a high school-aged girl scout who is working on earning a Gold Award, the highest award given by the Girl Scouts of America. All Gold Award projects must begin with identifying an issue about which the scout is passionate and end with educating and inspiring others on the topic.

Clearly, Victoria is passionate about trees, and we can honestly say we were inspired by her work. Her Gold Award project, an educational PowerPoint presentation entitled Treating Trees, “…seeks to educate the residents of the city of Newark so that they will be able to identify hazardous trees.”

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro's presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

A scene from a Newark, New Jersey, neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy. Ribeiro’s presentation seeks to inform people of what to do with hazardous trees in their neighborhoods.

Victoria’s email continued: “I must make my project have a global/national impact. I looked at your website and saw that [the Arbor Day Foundation] didn’t really have any program that the residents of a city could help identify trees and make his/her community a better place to live. I am emailing you in the hopes that you may possibly create a program similar to mine to make other neighborhoods a safer and better place to live.”

Victoria, we commend you on your excellent presentation and how you’re helping to educate your fellow citizens on trees and tree care. We’re proud to share your work with others who can learn from it for greener, healthier neighborhoods — in Newark and beyond.

Thank you for sharing your passion for trees, and we wish you much succes on your way to earning the Gold Award.

Download your own copy of Victoria’s Treating Trees presentation.

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What to do about Wildfires: Prevention vs. Combat

As the 2013 fire season continues, the costs of fighting wildfires have continued to increase. In 2012, fires consumed 40 percent of the Forest Service’s annual budget, compared to only 13 percent in 1991. Many factors have created these rising costs through the years, including worsened drought conditions, continued climate change, and an increased number of homes built near forested areas. These escalating expenses are proving to be so costly, that they are leaving less money for wildfire prevention.

 

Forest Fires

Drought conditions, climate change, and homes in traditionally forested areas have all contributed to the rising costs of fighting wildfires.

Due to these heightened factors, for fiscal 2014, the federal administration has proposed drastic spending cuts to hazardous fuels reduction, or clearing smaller trees and underbrush through controlled cutting and burns. The idea behind hazardous fuels reduction is that by removing this underbrush, fires will have less fuel to spread rapidly and can then be controlled faster. Donald Smurthwaite, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center states, “In a recent study by the Bureau of Land Management, when wildfires burned into fuels treatment areas, they were slowed or stopped about 90 percent of the time. With the decline in fuels funding, we’re worried that saving money today will mean larger and more destructive fires tomorrow.” Limited funding has decreased fire prevention for several years. In 2009, 4.5 million acres were treated to prevent wildfires, and under the proposed budgetary cuts, fewer than 2 million acres would be treated in 2014.While the proposed budget for fiscal 2014 would increase overall funding for wildfires, it would largely cut the hazardous fuels budgets for several agencies. In all, 41 percent of these budgets would fall, reducing the current funds of $502 million to $297 million.  This will be the third consecutive year the administration’s proposed budget includes spending cuts to forest treatment to prevent wildfires. Many of these cuts will greatly affect our tree partners — the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

As an organization of people that cares deeply about our nation’s forests and trees, the Arbor Day Foundation continues to challenge ourselves to better understand how to collaborate with our partners on the ground as they overcome these budgetary hurdles.  There simply isn’t funding available as there has been in decades past, and that is where our valued members, supporters, corporate donors and partners can help us to heighten our efforts to do more with less. They can help us to see new ways to partner with these groups, to create even more relevant programs, and to provide trees to those areas most in need. As we address each new challenge, we search for ways to better engage our loyal members and tree advocates to keep them involved in the good work our partners accomplish each year with our support.

With the help and generosity of our vast network of tree advocates, we will continue to foster our enduring 25-year partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. With their help, the Arbor Day Foundation will continue to bring new ideas surrounding education, conservation, and tree planting in wildfire-stricken areas.

Two ways you can take action now:
The Backyard Woods Program: Managing Forests Can Save Forests
Donate now to replant trees where they’re needed most

Data cited in this post sourced from NBC News.
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Abbie Eisenhart is a Community Tree Recovery Manager for the Arbor Day Foundation.