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.

Arbor Week celebrated throughout Oklahoma

Oklahoma has been bustling with Arbor Week activities since kicking off the tree planting holiday on Sunday, March 25.

In Oklahoma City, residents and visitors surveyed the almost-complete arboretum at Will Rogers Garden, a half-million dollar project funded by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to revive the underdeveloped tree canopy.

The arboretum, which will soon include more accessible sidewalks and pathways, was first built as a Depression-era public works project.

The University of Oklahoma, located in Norman, celebrated yesterday around the theme “A Planting Tradition,” with a picnic and tree planting, accompanied by the OU Jazz Combo. Campus President David Boren, a former governor and U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, spoke about the importance of tree planting and Arbor Day. According to the Norman Transcript, Boren called tree planting a “truly selfless act.”

“The thousandth tree will be a water oak, which is one of the biggest, tallest and longest-living trees. It will live for at least 100 years and will stand as a great symbol for what we do here each year,” Boren said.

Oklahoma State University, a first-year Tree Campus USA located in Stillwater, hosted a Campus Beautification Day yesterday, and the Oklahoma Forestry Services is sponsoring a poster contest for fifth graders. Last year’s winning entry from a student in Paul’s Valley is shown above.

The State of Oklahoma is currently home to 25 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in Oklahoma is Oklahoma City, population 540,000; the smallest is Morrison, population 636.

It’s Arbor Day in Arkansas

Today is Arbor Day in Arkansas, which like a handful of other states, celebrates the holiday earlier in the spring than National Arbor Day to correspond with the best time of year for planting.

North Carolina and Arizona both marked the holiday last Friday.

The best way to celebrate Arbor Day is by planting trees, and many Arkansans are already doing just that. In late January, Entergy launched its second-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to offer free trees to customers through the Energy-Saving Trees program.

Nearly 2,000 Entergy customers in Arkansas ordered 3,384 trees to help shade their homes and reduce energy bills.

Entergy gave out a total of 7,000 trees to customers in four states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas – meaning Arkansans claimed nearly half of the trees available. Many learned about the Energy-Saving Trees program through the community news site Arkansas Matters.

Arbor Day Foundation members and others are encouraged to contact their utility providers about participating in Energy-Saving Trees.

The State of Arkansas is currently home to 40 Tree City USA communities, accounting for nearly one million people. The largest Tree City USA in Arkansas is Little Rock (pictured above), population 183,333; the smallest is Beaver, population 80.

Happy Arbor Day to North Carolina and Arizona

Last week, Californians observed Arbor Week and New Mexicans marked Arbor Day. Now, it’s North Carolina and Arizona’s turn to celebrate.

Both states celebrate the holiday earlier than National Arbor Day to align with the best time of year for planting.

North Carolina is the Tar Heel State – and the Tar Heel also serves as the mascot for the flagship University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill. The best guess is that the name comes from the tar and pitch produced by the state’s large pine forests.

North Carolinians appreciate their state’s urban and state and national forests on the outer banks, the Appalachian Mountains and everywhere in between.

The North Carolina Forest Service also sponsors an Arbor Day Poster Contest every year, with the 2012 winning entry from a Kinston fifth-grader shown above.

The state is home to 74 Tree City USA communities, accounting for a total population of nearly 3.7 million. The largest Tree City USA in North Carolina is Charlotte, population 726,000; the smallest is Bath, population 304.

Like in neighboring New Mexico, Arbor Day is more understated in Arizona, in part because large deserts make tree planting a challenge.

Arizona’s unique climate makes it hospitable for a number of trees that would be unable to survive elsewhere, like the Arizona Cypress. A southwest native with soft- textured gray and green foliage and rough shredding gray brown bark, the Arizona Cypress thrives in hardiness zones 7 through 9, which effectively excludes much of the country.

The State of Arizona is currently home to 22 Tree City USA communities, accounting for more than 4 million people. The largest Tree City USA in Arizona is Phoenix, population 1.5 million; the smallest is Quartzsite, population 3,600.

California and New Mexico celebrate Arbor Week, Arbor Day

Californians have celebrated Arbor Week from March 7th through 14th for many years. In addition to being an ideal time for planting, the 7th marks the birthday of pioneering California horticulturalist Luther Burbank, who helped develop dozens of fruit, vegetable and flower varieties.

California Arbor Week, however, was not officially recognized by the State Legislature until last year’s passage of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 10. The measure acknowledges March 7th through 14th as Arbor Week for 2011 and each year thereafter, as well as encourages Californians to plant trees and participate in local conservation efforts.

The resolution was introduced by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, who hails from the state’s tree-friendly capital Sacramento, pictured above.

“(Trees) help us make our communities more attractive by their aesthetics, but they’re also good for saving energy, for boosting our economy, for maintaining property values, so trees have many many enormous contributions to make to our urban landscape, as well as of course our wildland and forestland trees,” Dickinson said.

California is currently home to 141 Tree City USA communities, accounting for a total population of nearly 17 million people. The largest Tree City USA is Los Angeles, population 3.9 million; the smallest is Weed, population 3,000.

California ReLeaf, a state non-profit, played an important role in both supporting last year’s resolution and raising awareness about ways to get involved in Arbor Week activities.

The celebration was lower-key in New Mexico, where Arbor Day is recognized on the second Friday of March – this year, falling on Friday the 9th. The Albuquerque Journal’s Nancy Tipton, a Nebraska native, said while Arbor Day is a “big deal” in her home state, in New Mexico it’s “a little less so.”

New Mexico is currently home to 12 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 746,921 people. The largest Tree City USA is Albuquerque, population 484,246; the smallest is San Jon, population 308.