Tomorrow—Friday, April 24—is National Arbor Day! This year’s Arbor Day is like no other with everyone doing their best to adjust to life with COVID-19. One thing remains constant however: the spirit of Arbor Day and the value of trees and forests! Even though tree planting and educational events this spring have been canceled, we can still recognize the necessity of trees and how they help us, even during the current crisis.
Take Oregon, for instance: although the Oregon Department of Forestry has postponed its Spring Arbor Day events, Oregon Community Trees is still providing grants to communities for their celebrations. And here’s a fun fact: All 11 of this year’s grant recipients have earned Tree City USA status for at least eight years—with some holding the title longer than three decades!
Take note! Tree Cities and Tree Campuses normally would celebrate Arbor Day, but given the challenges associated with hosting events this year, NASF and the Arbor Day Foundation have waived this requirement (Standard 4) for all 2020 applications.
In Nebraska, the tree planter’s state and home of Arbor Day, the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) planted 105,000 ponderosa pine seedlings through snow, wind, and rain across four counties in north central and northwestern Nebraska before COVID-19 hit. The seedlings used were grown at the USDA Forest Service Bessey Nursery and planted in partnership with the Middle Niobrara Natural Resource District (NRD), the Upper Niobrara White NRD, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and private landowners. This planting effort was the culmination of a three-year project to plant nearly 400,000 trees in areas burned by wildfire around the state.
Nebraska’s Arbor Day—unlike other states’—falls on the same day as National Arbor Day. To commemorate the holiday further, NFS is encouraging people across the country to post pictures of themselves hugging a tree along with #hugatree. Nebraskans can tag their tree posts with #treehusker too!
Massachusetts is keeping with the Arbor Day spirit and moving forward with their seedling sales program. Through mid-May, nursery suppliers in Massachusetts will ship individual seedling orders directly to municipalities, garden clubs, private firms, arborists, and other customers. The seedling proceeds support annual scholarships for college arboriculture students—how cool is that?!
Take note! You can safely celebrate #arbordayathome with ideas and resources from The Arbor Day Foundation. Go to celebratearborday.com and get involved with the social media campaign by (1) posting a picture of your favorite tree on social media and tagging (2) #arbordayathome and (3) @arborday. The Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree on your behalf… up to 50,000 trees in total!
This public health crisis has made us more creative in finding ways to stay connected with our natural world. Even if you can’t get your hands dirty at a local tree planting event, you can still celebrate National Arbor Day! Be well, keep safe, and thanks for making the most of your 2020 National Arbor Day celebrations.
Want to learn more about urban and community forests? Get involved with the NASF Urban and Community Forestry Committee by reaching out to staff member Keith Wood.