In 1872, a Nebraska pioneer and journalist proposed a holiday for planting trees called “Arbor Day”. J. Sterling Morton moved from Detroit only to find that the Nebraska territory was a vast treeless plain. Recognizing the need for windbreaks, lumber, fuel wood and shade, he immediately started planting trees. Morton became Secretary of the Nebraska Territory and had his idea approved and a date was set for April 10, 1872. In 1885, Arbor Day was proclaimed a legal holiday in Nebraska on Morton’s birthday, April 22.
Since the 1870’s, the other 49 states and many other nations have proclaimed an Arbor Day. Today, we celebrate National Arbor Day on the last Friday in April, although some states do have a separate Arbor Day to coincide with the best planting season.
An important part of Arbor Day celebrations today involves our children. Schools and civic organizations hold Arbor Day celebrations each year in an effort to not only plant trees, but to educate our youth about trees and all of the benefits we receive from them.
As a result of recent storms, many trees have been removed, but due to reduced municipal budgets tree replacement has not kept pace. Trees anchor our landscapes and beautify our communities, but they take time to grow and provide their many benefits. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
If you have questions about Arbor Day or tree planting, contact your local ISA member, Shade Tree commission or Forestry Service. They can help you or your organization reach out to our youth and shape our future. J. Sterling Morton once said, “Other holidays repose upon the past, Arbor Day proposes for the future”. So think ahead, plant trees!