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.