Linda Jark, Chapman, Kansas, Tree Board Chair

On the night of June 11, 2008, a deadly tornado struck Chapman, Kansas, leaving behind a trail of devastation. Much of the tree canopy in the heart of this farming community was destroyed.

KS plantingTo exacerbate the difficult situation, Chapman had no organized community forestry program. That’s when the Kansas Forest Service got involved. A community forester at Kansas State University took initiative, promptly contacted Chapman city officials, and generously offered technical assistance to help the community address the storm’s aftermath.

During the next several years, the Kansas Forest Service helped start a tree board and guided an inventory of the community’s trees. Information from the inventory helped leverage Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to remove irreparably damaged and destroyed trees and to guide a new tree planting strategy.

Linda JarkLinda Jark was eventually appointed chair of the new tree board. She is quick to praise the assistance that Chapman received after the tornado. For her, this made all the difference.

“Thanks to the Kansas Forest Service, we got the right information and recommendations,” said Linda. Chapman’s community forestry program is now thriving and continues to grow.  In addition, Chapman is now a proud Tree City USA recognized community.

“Now it’s starting to show,” said Linda. “We have growth. The community forestry program is in the public eye.”

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Jo An Street, Portland, Maine, Parent

Jo AnJo An Street is the mother of an elementary student at Reiche School near downtown Portland, Maine, a recognized Tree City USA community for nearly four decades, so she understands the importance of exposing city-raised children to trees and green space. She was pleased when a collaborative effort was initiated between Portland’s Forestry Department, local businesses and educational groups to create apple orchards on school grounds.

“This is the only green space many of these children may have access to,” says Jo An. With support from the Maine Forest Service‘s ‘Project Canopy,’ four apple orchards were established at Portland schools during the first three years, and the project continues to grow. Jo An kids

The trees in the school orchard are connecting children with nature. The orchards are planted and cared for by students and staff during the school year and by community and parent groups during the summer. In addition to providing outdoor play space, the orchards also serve an educational purpose.

“This has become a community effort and trees are an important way to bring science education to these kids,” Jo An adds. She has already noticed the difference the trees have made to her own children.

Joan Tree

Were it not for grant dollars, professional advice and volunteer assistance from state and local forestry officials, children in Portland would not have these educational and invigorating orchards in which to learn and play.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque has been designated a Tree City USA community for 16 years and awarded the  Growth Award twice.

Albuquerque NMHome to 550,000 residents, Albuquerque is a city fused with western flare and modern culture.  Despite its arid desert climate, Albuquerque manages to stay green, encompassing more than 1.5 million trees with 13% tree canopy coverage. The city also fosters a healthy lifestyle; a 2007 March issue of Men’s Fitness listed Albuquerque as the fittest city in the United States. Residents are certainly making the most of the city’s 361 parks.

In addition to healthy people, Albuquerque also produces healthy air, removing 366 tons of air pollutants annually, saving $1.1 million in air filtration costs. Contrary to desert stereotypes, the city receives rainfall; in fact the urban forest intercepts 11.1 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually, saving $3.42 million in stormwater management costs. On top of that, the city saves as much as $3.76 million in energy costs.

Albuquerque’s urban forest is an asset valued at $1.93 billion.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

James Settle, Roanoke, Virginia, Neighborhood Leader and Former Parks Advisory Board Member

James Settle“This stretch of road was a racetrack,” said Roanoke, Virginia, resident James Settle, recalling how speeding cars used to pour across a nearby bridge, down his street and past his family’s home.

Walking in James’ neighborhood was truly a dangerous proposition – until the City of Roanoke, a long-time Tree City USA recognized community, planted 26 ornamental and shade trees at the foot of the bridge. The trees grew into an effective entryway to the neighborhood and a buffer between busy traffic and single-family homes. The constancy of speeding cars subsided.

The new trees slowed traffic and made the neighborhood safer. In fact, James says he has never felt safer, and that the 26 trees made all the difference.

“If we could do only one thing as a neighborhood, we’d plant trees,” he said.

roanoke james sWhile other local neighborhoods hoped to realize the same safety benefits, a challenging budget situation reduced the overall number of trees that the city would be able to plant. Undeterred, James inspired a local volunteer group of tree stewards with the goal of giving every resident the same sense of comfort he now experiences.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Megan Ehlers, Ehlers Animal Care, Trees for Pets

Professional pet sitters, veterinarians, other animal care professionals, and all who love animal companions have a unique opportunity to honor, celebrate and remember the pets for which they care through the Arbor Day Foundation’s unique Trees for Pets program.

Launched in the winter of 2010, Trees for Pets allows animal care professionals to show just how special their clients’ pets are to them while at the same time making a difference in the world. Each Trees for Pets certificate honors a special companion by planting a tree in their honor or memory in our nation’s forests to help replace grand trees that are lost each year to fire or disease.

Megan Ehlers“Trees for Pets means so much to our clients.  We’ve received a very positive response from our clients because of our participation in Trees for Pets,” said Megan Ehlers, owner and veterinarian at Ehlers Animal Care in Lincoln, Nebraska. “We very much want to honor the passing of a loved companion. It helps create a sense of peace in a time of need. Our clients are moved by the simple act of planting a tree to honor the bond they shared with their pet, and they are touched that the acknowledgement of the love of their pet is making a lasting difference for generations to come through the planting of trees. One client’s thank you card shared that the tree planted was placed in a forest that his father used to reminisce about camping in as a child.  Moments such as these are profound for us, but most importantly to the healing process of our clients.”

Ehlers Animal Care has helped the Arbor Day Foundation plant 460 trees during the past four years through their participation in the Trees for Pets program.

Ttrees for pethey’re more than our pets. They’re our friends. They carve out a special place in our hearts and in our lives. What better way to honor them than with the gift of trees?

A meaningful and convenient way to honor the companions for which you care, Trees for Pets is easy to use. Online registration is available at http://www.arborday.org/animalpro/.

“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

—George Eliot

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

 

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Fort Wayne, IN

Fort Wayne has received Tree City USA designation for 24 years and has been awarded the Growth Award nine times.

Ft Wayne INFort Wayne is home to 250,000 residents and a diverse variety of activities including 15 museums and art galleries, a botanical conservatory, and three minor league sports franchises, not to mention the 86 public parks one can enjoy. The city’s 29% tree canopy coverage provides shade and beauty to those exploring the city.

Fort Wayne’s urban forest is comprised of more than 54,000 street trees that save the city nearly $300,000 in air filtration costs. In addition, the urban forest reduces energy expenses by $2.5 million and saves $1.7 million in stormwater management annually.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number One: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

The number one tree on The Arbor Day Foundation Five Most Popular Christmas Trees series is the Scots Pine, which is the top selling tree in the country. Scots Pines aren’t actually native to the United States; they were introduced through European settlers and have since been cultivated, especially in the eastern US. Their bright green color, excellent survival rate, and great needle retention make them the most popular Christmas tree on our countdown.

Scots PineeScots Pines (also known as Scotch Pine) are a hardy species adaptable to a wide variety of soils. They resist drying, and even when they do dry they refuse to drop their needles. In fact, when kept in water these pines will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Scots Pines grow to more than 60 ft high and 40 ft wide. They are however a slow growing tree, which means it takes 6-8 years to produce a 7 to 8 ft Christmas tree. They naturally grow in an oval shape and are annually sheared to form the Christmas tree figure.

Scots Pines have high economic value in Europe and throughout Asia because they produce pulpwood —timber used specifically for paper production —poles, and sawlogs used in manufacturing plywood. They’re also popular in reclamation sites because of their easy replanting capabilities, with more than 35 seed varieties commercially recognized.

To learn more about the Scots Pine or any other tree visit our What Tree is That? tool.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Two: The Douglasfir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Number two on our Christmas tree countdown is the Douglasfir. Discovered in 1826 by botanist-explorer David Douglas, Douglasfirs have remained important in American history.  Their tall structure, soft needles, and sweet aroma make them one of the most popular Christmas tree choices, accounting for nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States.

Michelle Obama Hosts Christmas Volunteers At White HouseDid you know that Douglasfirs were also a candidate for America’s National Tree in 2001? (Check out the other candidates here.) Although they didn’t receive the title, they still demonstrate how connected they are with American history.  They helped settle the West by providing railroad ties and telephone & telegraph poles. They’re the most common tree in Oregon; eight of every ten conifers west of the Cascades are Douglasfirs. In 1936, the Oregon Legislature recognized the Douglasfir as the official state tree.

These trees are quite the warriors; they’re deer-resistant and seldom severely damaged. There are two geographical varieties of Douglasfir (which aren’t real Fir trees): Coast Douglasfir, native to the Pacific coast through Nevada, and Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, native to the inland mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. The Coastal variety is faster growing, long-lived and can grow to be more than 300 ft tall. They’re versatile, growing in a variety of environments from extremely dry, low elevation sites to moist sites.

The national champion Douglasfir tree grows in Coos County, Oregon. It measures 329 ft tall with a crown spread of 60 ft, and diameter of 11 ½ ft ­­­­– that’s massive. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the largest known Douglasfir is in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is 242 ft tall and 13.9 ft in diameter and the only known tree on earth—other than the Giant Sequoia and coast redwood— that has a diameter of 7 ft at 144 ft from the ground. What a beauty!

Douglasfirs are also the country’s top lumber source. Their wood is used widely in construction, laminated timbers, interior trim, boxes, ladders and flooring.

To learn more about the Douglasfir or any other tree visit the What Tree is That? tool.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Three: The Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)

balsam fir decoratedNext on our Arbor Day Foundation Christmas tree countdown is the Balsam Fir. Balsam Firs (not to be confused with the Fraser Fir for their similar characteristics) are adapted to a wide variety of environments from swamps to high rocky mountain terrain, but thrive best in the cold climates of the northern United States and Canada. Its symmetrical spire-like crown, dense foliage and spicy fragrance make it another favorite among the most popular Christmas trees.

Young Balsam Firs have sticky, liquid resin blisters on the side of their bark. Fun facts — the benefits of the resin in these blisters are numerous. To start, it had been sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous fir knots were once used as torches. The resin also features medicinal properties; during the Civil War the resin was used as a balm and applied to combat injuries.

Today, the resin is most commonly used as optical mounting cement for lenses and microscope slides, and can also be found in paints and polishes; talk about the tree that keeps on giving! If you’re ever lost in the wild and surrounded by Balsam Firs be sure to stay near them, they’ll probably be your best survival aid.balsam fir resin

Balsam Firs grow anywhere from 45-75 ft in height at a rate of 12” or less a year. Their slender forms fit great in tight spaces. It takes about 9-10 years to grow a 6-7 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Four: The Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)

fraser firThe next tree on our Arbor Day Foundation Christmas tree countdown is the Fraser Fir, named after the Scot botanist John Fraser, who explored the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late 18th century, where these trees are naturally found. Fraser Fir’s have a unique history, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension office; they’re part of a remnant forest from the last ice age. They only grow naturally at elevations of more than 4,500 feet.

The needles on Fraser Firs are dark green on top, and silver underneath, with branches that turn slightly upward. Their uniform pyramid shape makes them an obvious choice as a Christmas tree. In addition to their pine scent aroma, Fraser Fir’s also have great needle retention after being cut, making them practical for families with children.

Speaking of children, a few years back a group of eighth grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, NC started a petition requesting the Fraser Fir become North Carolina’s official Christmas tree. These bright, young minds learned that Fraser Firs were a significant part of the state’s economy. How significant? Well, 50 million Fraser Firs are grown on approximately 25,000 acres in North Carolina (that’s 90% of all of all the Christmas trees grown in the state). According to the NC Dept of Agriculture, in 2009 Christmas trees brought an estimated $100 million economic impact to the state.

biltmore estate

Fraser Fir in the Banquet Hall of Biltmore House

As it turned out, in 2005 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation making the Fraser Fir the official Christmas tree of North Carolina — how cool is that!

If you want to experience North Carolina’s natural treasure pay a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC during the holiday season. The Biltmore House is known for hosting one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, showcasing a 34-foot tall Fraser Fir in their Banquet Hall.

To learn more about the Fraser Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.