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.
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.
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.
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.