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.

Celebrating Global Tiger Day: July 29

Today – July 29 – is Global Tiger Day, a day for appreciating and celebrating all species of tigers worldwide. Unfortunately, this also means realizing their great decline in numbers due to poaching, habitat loss, and conflicts.

Tigers recline in their natural habitat. Image via National Geographic; photo credit: Steve Winter.

Tigers recline in their natural habitat. Image via National Geographic; photo credit: Steve Winter.

Did you know…trees and tigers go hand-in-hand. A majority of tigers’ natural habitats are made up of forests. Tropical, evergreen, temperate and snow-covered hardwood forests, along with mangrove swamps, are all home to various species of tiger.

Celebrate these beautiful creatures on Global Tiger Day — and every day — by raising awareness and supporting the preservation of their habitats.

Five facts about tigers from our friends at the World Wildlife Fund:

Tiger Ranges

This map shows the shrinking global range of tigers. Map copyright World Wildlife Fund.

1. In the last century alone, tigers have lost 93% of their historic range.

2. Continued large-scale habitat destruction and decimation of prey populations are the major long-term threats to the continued existence of tigers in the wild.3. Tiger habitat decreased by 45% in the last 10 years.

4. All tigers need dense vegetation, the presence of large ungulate prey, and access to water to be able to survive.

5. Tigers are found in a wide range of habitats in Asia and the Russian Far East, in increasingly fragmented and isolated populations.

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Coe Roberts is an Electronic Communication Specialist at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Project Blue River Rescue: Improving Kansas City’s Waterways

Every year for the past 20 years, hundreds of volunteers and city workers in metropolitan Kansas City come together in an effort known as Project Blue River Rescue. Their goal: to clean up piles of trash and illegal dumping out of the Blue River which flows through their city.

Blue River Rescue 2013

Kansas City-area boy scouts take to the Blue River to haul out debris as part of the Project Blue River Rescue 2013. Photo: PBRR Facebook.

Partnering with the Kansas City Public Works, the Missouri Department of Conservation and several local businesses and organizations, Project Blue River Rescue has grown to be Missouri’s largest, one-day conservation cleanup.

“Each year, volunteers have cleaned up thousands of pounds of trash, tires, appliances and even cars,” says Wendy Sangster, Urban Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Blue River Rescue 2013

Volunteers remove several bags of trash and nuisance honeysuckle from the banks of the Blue River in metro Kansas City, as part of the Project Blue River Rescue 2013. Photo: PBRR Facebook.

More recently, Project Blue River Rescue has also focused on habitat restoration along the river. In April 2013, a group of 20 volunteers organized by the Heartland Tree Alliance, a branch of Bridging the Gap, planted 500 tree seedlings along the Blue River near a baseball complex in southern Kansas City. The seedlings included native species — burr oak, sycamore, pecan and shellbark hickory — all which would have normally grown along the Blue River. Volunteers also worked to remove invasive honeysuckle plants along the waterway to ensure the growth of these new seedlings.

Sangster firmly believes in the longevity of this project and the positive impact it has on the local community. By getting community members involved in the planting, she feels it instills a connection to nature and provides a foundation for advancing environmental stewardship in the greater Kansas City area.

“If a volunteer can do the physical, hard work of planting a tree,” Sangster says, “they are more likely to become ambassadors and tree stewards in their own communities.”
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Mary Sweeney is a program manager at the Arbor Day Foundation.

 

Next stage of green roof sprouts over downtown Lincoln

Green Roof Project - Lincoln, NELast week, Arbor Day Foundation employees took to their office rooftop with plants and vines in hand, ready to bring the next stage of their green roof project to fruition.

The first installment of the green roof took shape nearly three years ago at 12th and P Streets in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, when workers installed 7,369 square feet of green roof and planted it in sedum and native grasses. Read more…

Summer storms keep disaster recovery top of mind

Strong storms, tornadoes, and wildfires have rocked communities all across the U.S. this spring and summer, leaving paths of destruction in their wake.

In the past few weeks alone, thousands of acres have burned in Southern California and New Mexico. Oklahoma and Texas each have seen rampant devastation by multiple tornadoes – some bringing the strongest winds ever recorded. And with the 2013 tropical storm season now officially underway, climatologists are predicting more and stronger storms for the coasts this summer. Read more…

Happy Arbor Day

In the mid 1880s, J. Sterling Morton arrived at what was then the Nebraska territories. He quickly became active in civic affairs, and championed a holiday for planting trees – which the prairie did not have a lot of at the time.

Loblolly cones  seedlings1 Ratcliff (2)Morton was on to something. Arbor Day is celebrated today in all 50 states and around the world.

Tomorrow, the Foundation will honor 14 outstanding tree plantings and conservationists at the annual Arbor Day Awards.

Our highest honoree, Kemba Shakur, is a nationally-known champion for urban forests who first started planting in West Oakland – after drawing a connection between many of her neighborhood’s challenges and the absence of green space.

Learn about this year’s Arbor Day Award winners here.

Americans interact with the Arbor Day Foundation in many ways throughout the year, but perhaps we’re known best for the Tree City USA program. Now in its 37th year, Tree City USA recognizes cities and towns for sustained investment in urban forestry. The U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters are key partners in this work.

See our complete list of current Tree City USAs here.

manhattantreesWe’re also excited by the growth of Tree Campus USA, which brings similar resources and recognition to effective forest management on colleges and universities. Check out the full list of 2012 Tree Campus USAs here.

Trees do so much for us without our even noticing sometimes. They beautify neighborhoods, remove harmful pollutants from the air and provide critical habitat for wildlife. Trees save energy, protect water resources and make our lives healthier. Our state and national forests are a treasure – but they need our continued support.

Happy Arbor Day. And don’t forget to visit us again soon to find out how you can plant trees and make our planet a better place throughout the year.