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.