"Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future." – J. Sterling Morton
This Friday, February 15th is Georgia’s Arbor Day! But what exactly is Arbor Day? When and where was it founded? What is the best way to celebrate the occasion? How can someone get involved locally?
History of Arbor Day
Arbor Day was founded by a man named J. Sterling Morton on April 10th, 1872 in Nebraska. Morton was a journalist and nature lover. He and his wife not only diligently planted trees and shrubs at their own homestead, he also utilized his voice as a journalist to encourage other individuals and groups to do the same.
To give you a better visual of the timeframe, in 1872 Nebraska had been a state for 5 years, the Civil War had been over for 7 years, and Ulysses S. Grant was the President. This was also the same year that Yellowstone was established as the country’s (and the world’s) first National Park, and suffragist Susan B. Anthony cast her vote in the Presidential election in defiance of the fact that women weren’t given the right to vote (it would be another 48 years before women were allowed a vote on a national scale).
This first Arbor Day was a very successful event - an estimated one million trees were planted in a very barren Nebraska that day – all because one man shared his love for trees. By the end of the 1870’s many other states had embraced the holiday, and by 1882 school children nation-wide had adopted this new tradition.
Today Arbor Day is an international event. It is observed in the United States on the 3rd Friday of April, although each state has their own Arbor Day as well, based on a suitable planting season for each. Georgia’s first Arbor Day was proclaimed in 1890. In 1941 the 3rd Friday in February was chosen as the official date - because by April it is too late for newly planted trees to adjust to the harsh Southern heat.
“In urban environments, trees are a great cost effective solution to many environmental, social, and economic challenges. Though planting is a great solution, more important is the conservation of trees and preserving our city’s canopy. Trees improve our quality of life tree-mendously!” – Atlanta Tree Expert, Robby Astrove
Benefits of Trees
Trees not only provide places for the birds to perch and sing their songs, they are a very necessary part of existence on this planet. Trees offer benefits that no other living organism can achieve for us, and Arbor Day is a great time to think about these things. Here are a few great reasons to respect trees – and plant more!
Things trees do for us:
- Absorb carbon dioxide
- Produce clean air (oxygen)
- Soak up rainwater and reduce flood potential
- Provide shade – reduce utility bills
- Prevent soil erosion
- Remove toxins from the environment
- Trap dust, ash, smoke, pollen – increasing air quality
- Increase property value
- Provide homes and food for wildlife
- Increase water quality
- Reduce temperatures in urban environments
- Provide fruit and nuts for humans and wildlife
- Reduce noise and glare
- Encourage social interaction and outdoor exercise
- Studies have shown that having a view of trees reduces stress and provides a more peaceful sense of being
- It has been proven that people who live, study and work near trees are generally healthier
And of course, trees provide a great place to hang a swing, a fantastic climbing adventure for the kids, and for those of us who enjoy creek swimming, there’s nothing like a good old tree branch to bail off into the cool water from!
Did you know?
One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and releases 4 tons of fresh, clean oxygen!
Studies have shown that trees break down some pesticides and carcinogenic groundwater contaminants, such as atrazine and trichloreoethelene, into harmless compounds.
Some mature, healthy trees can soak up nearly 57,000 gallons of water in a flash flood situation.
According to American Forests, the forests in Atlanta remove about 19 million pounds of air pollutants each year.
Streets with few or no shade trees have to be repaved twice as often as shady streets.
Get involved locally:
- Arbor Day Planting in Old Fourth Ward! Join Trees Atlanta on Friday, February 15th to plant trees in the southern part of Old Fourth Ward from 1 pm to 4 pm. Email email@example.com for details.
- Winter Tree Walk with Ranger Robby! Join Park Ranger Robby Astrove at Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve on Georgia Arbor Day (Friday, February 15th) for an interpretive hike to learn about winter tree identification. Participants will learn about overlooked signatures best noted for winter ID. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to RSVP.
- Purchase and plant your own! The Atlanta Local Food Initiative (ALFI) invites you to purchase fruit trees, vines and berry bushes during their annual sale. February 23rd from 10am-2pm at the Georgia International Convention Center during the Georgia Organics Conference - All are welcome to shop! Horticulture and Agriculture experts will be on hand to assist shoppers and there will be educational material and demos from Master Gardeners and others. Click this link for more info.
- Donate to help support ALFI’s Orchard Project! You can donate any amount, even one dollar, and these funds will be used to plant fruit trees, berry bushes and vines at local schools and community gardens! Follow this link for more details.
“ALFI's 2013 Orchard Project will install three edible school gardens/community orchards that will feed, teach, and inspire. These orchards provide teaching opportunities to connect thousands of students, teachers, and citizens to the local food movement.”
- Volunteer to help plant fruit tree orchards! Join ALFI and Atlanta’s fruit tree expert, Robby Astrove to put new orchards in the ground! Contact email@example.com for details and to RSVP
- February 26th - 10am at Lang Carson Park, 100 Flat Shoals Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
- February 26th – 12:30pm at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market, 561 Flat Shoals Ave, Atlanta, GA 30316
- March 4th - 12:30pm at Crim High School, 256 Clifton St, Atlanta, GA 30317
- March 5th - 10am at the Outdoor Activity Center, 1442 Richland Road, Atlanta, GA 30310.
- Connect with Concrete Jungle! Concrete Jungle is a great example that a handful of motivated people can make a tremendous difference. This group picks neglected produce from all over Atlanta, and donates it to homeless shelters and food banks. In 2012 they were able to donate more than 10,000 pounds of edible produce that would have otherwise went to waste throughout the metro area! Visit their website to learn more www.concrete-jungle.org
- Get involved with Trees Atlanta! This local, non-profit citizen’s group has planted and distributed more than 88,000 trees in the metro Atlanta area since 1985! To learn more ways that you can get involved with Trees Atlanta’s tree planting efforts, forest restoration, education programs, Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, and Champion Tree programs, visit www.treesatlanta.org
- Visit the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum! “A continuous indoor/outdoor classroom weaving through neighborhoods along a 22-mile corridor, the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum is a marvel of human interaction with the natural environment that provides an opportunity for schools, neighborhoods, and visitors to Atlanta to learn that “trees are for health, trees are for community, trees are for life." Learn more at www.treesatlanta.org
- Discover (or nominate) Atlanta’s Champion Trees! A team of dedicated tree professionals continue to locate and map out the oldest, heartiest, and most beautiful trees our city has to offer. Many of Georgia’s most impressive trees lie within the metro area. You can view a map of existing champion trees, or nominate one of your favorites for consideration at www.treesatlanta.org.
- Click here for more upcoming Georgia Tree Events from Georgia Forestry Commission!
“Each generation takes the Earth as trustees.” – J. Sterling Morton
What you can do to help save our existing trees:
- Buy products made from hemp, bamboo & other sustainable sources
- Recycle whatever paper products you possibly can
- Buy recycled goods! Especially toilet paper - most toilet paper comes from virgin hardwood forests. (What a waste!)
- Stop junk mail. Direct-mail marketing uses an estimated 100 million trees a year and almost half of that ends up unopened in landfills. (Click here to remove your name from junk mail lists)
- Plant a tree!! (Or two or THREE!)
- Speak out! Support legislation that protects our natural resources.
To learn more about Georgia’s trees, and to discover new ways to get involved with planting and protecting our orchards and forests, connect with the following organizations:
Connect with Atlanta Outdoors Examiner on Facebook!