Alaska plans Arbor Day around small window for spring planting

A little less than a month ago, Scoutmaster Duane Robison traveled to Nebraska to accept an Arbor Day Award on behalf of Boy Scout Troop 367 and Cup Scout Troop 367 for their  contribution to the 2011 Arbor Day Celebration in small-town Palmer.

Today, Palmer joins the Mat-Su Valley and the entire state of Alaska in marking the tree-planting holiday once more. Facing long and dark winters, Alaskans have a small window for getting new trees in the ground.

“We try to get the planting in when we can,” Robison said.

Last year, one hundred people came out for Palmer’s celebration from a variety of organizations. The youngest participant was a 7-year-old Tiger Cub from the Cub Scouts, who planted trees with a 97-year-old World War II veteran. The Scouts also helped establish a Veteran’s Grove in the heart of downtown Palmer and on the grounds of the local Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home.

Alaska’s Division of Forestry stresses that trees and forests are “important to our way of life in Alaska, and as our towns grow, the value of trees increases.”

According to the state forestry officials, some towns in Alaska have lost as much as 40 percent of their tree canopy, hindering the ability to maintain clean air, safe drinking water and quality-of-life. The state has two full-time urban forestry staffers and a 5-year blueprint for improved community tree management.

The State of Alaska is currently home to 8 Tree City USA communities, accounting for 388,293 people. The largest Tree City USA in Alaska is Anchorage, population 286,174; the smallest is Eielson Air Force Base, population 2,740.

Here is our video about Troop 367 and Pack 367 from last month’s award.