Hug a tree on Arbor Day
What: Many people escape to old-growth forests and expansive parks to enjoy the natural beauty and wonder of trees. But every day, millions of Americans reap the benefits of urban forests, which comprise about a quarter of U.S. cities and hold more than 3.8 billion trees. These trees help mitigate pollution, prevent floods, provide beauty, and enable recreation. Help protect our natural forests and cultivate our manmade ones by celebrating Arbor Day on April 29.
Background: Arbor Day was started by J. Sterling Morton, a newspaper editor who moved to the Nebraska Territory as a pioneer. Morton saw the area needed more trees to prevent soil erosion, and also to use as building material, firewood, and to enhance the beauty of the area’s new settlements. Arbor Day was first celebrated on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Neb., and it is estimated that Nebraskans planted over a million trees. The tree-planting holiday was continuously celebrated in the state, and in 1885, it was named a legal holiday in Nebraska. By then, the steady success of the holiday had led other states to observe it, spreading Arbor Day throughout the U.S. Today, Arbor Day, usually observed on the last Friday of April, is celebrated throughout the world.
Story Pitch: Trees prevent erosion, provide homes for animals, nourish the soil, and are vital to wild environments, making Arbor Day a great opportunity for many organizations and groups to pitch around. Many conservation organizations hold Arbor Day tree plantings to show the public the importance of trees in the wild, but urban groups can also hold plantings to enhance a city park or urban area. Local volunteer groups can use neighborhood tree plantings to kick off ongoing projects that care for and revitalize outdoor places. Additionally, cities can educate the public on how city trees are managed and what types are best for the area.
Story Hook: According to ArborDay.org, past wildfire seasons have destroyed millions of trees across the country, while most of the U.S. Forest Service’s funding has gone to fighting the fires, leaving little for replanting. How can people help recover our nation’s trees? What volunteer organizations work to keep green spaces healthy and beautiful? Keep the following in mind when you make your pitch:
- How do trees help with air and water pollution? How do they provide oxygen?
- How do trees alleviate and prevent specific local environmental problems?
- Having trees for shade makes outdoor activities more comfortable, but do shade trees have a wider impact on the environment or climate?
- Are local trees in danger of certain pests or diseases? How can local people minimize the risk?
Tips: An arborist or representative from a local arboreal garden or park, who can talk about why trees are important and worth caring for would make a good contact. Additionally, a volunteer who heads up tree planting efforts can share how they bring communities together and make spaces more livable.
The Arbor Day Foundation
International Society of Arboriculture
U.S. Forest Service
Society of Municipal Arborists
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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