Breathe in… breathe out. The clear air that fills your lungs has been purified by trees. Clean air is one of the many ecological, economic and social benefits trees provide us. Trees also reduce crime rate, increase property values, reduce heating and cooling costs, increase tests scores, beautify communities, and provide lumber by-products. In late April, people around the world, both old and young, took time to celebrate these and other benefits by participating in Arbor Day celebrations.
This year, DNR employees throughout the state helped communities celebrate Arbor Day. Many communities took these celebrations as a chance to be recognized as Tree City USA communities. Tree City USA (TCUSA) is a program hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation, and implemented by the DNR Urban Forestry program, to recognize communities that are making efforts towards protecting, maintaining and increasing the quality of their street trees.
The City of Beloit held a wonderful presentation involving various community members and state representatives. Students from Beloit College gave a presentation on their project involving inventorying local urban trees. There was also a recitation of a poem that emphasized the importance of trees. The community celebrated 29 years as a Tree City USA, and planted a tree in front of the senior center to recognize this achievement.
An Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison provided the unique opportunity for youth and adults alike to climb a tree with certified arborists. Additionally, this celebration included the distribution of saplings to community members, games for youth, and information on tree insects and diseases. Madison Gas & Electric Company helped host the event and provided community members with useful information to grow their community tree population and increase the benefits they provide.
Urban Forestry Coordinator Kim Sebastian helped several communities celebrate Arbor Day and TCUSA this year. Glendale first graders celebrated 19 years as a TCUSA community this year. Delavan is a 27 year veteran of the TCUSA program and provided seedling trees at the Arbor Day celebration site, the Paul Lange Arboretum on Comus Lake, with help from US Navy Veterans. Elm Grove celebrated their 27th TCUSA award with student leadership from Tonawanda Elementary by planting nine trees to begin the replacement of ash trees around the school. Williams Bay celebrated Arbor Day by inviting over 500 area students to plant 80 oak trees in the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in the heart of the community to mark 16 years as a TCUSA. Additionally, Paddock Lake celebrated 18 years as a TCUSA and was thrilled to accept their first TCUSA Growth award for their work educating and helping residents with emerald ash borer ash removals.
Arbor Day has been celebrated throughout the state for decades. These celebrations provide a platform to discuss urban forestry topics. Students and adults alike spread the message of the importance of trees and the benefits that they provide. J. Sterling Morton once said, “Arbor Day is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Create a better future by caring for your community trees, not only on Arbor Day, but year-round.
For more information contact Ellen Clark (EllenA.Clark@Wisconsin.gov), Urban Forestry Communication Specialist, at 608-267-2774.