March 11, 2013
News Contacts: Paul D. Ries, 503-945-7391, or Cynthia Orlando, 503-945-7421
"The time is always ripe to do right." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Counting the ways to celebrate Arbor Week
In Oregon, we commemorate Arbor Week (which falls April 7 - 14 this year) more so than Arbor Day. It's a great opportunity for children, neighbors and communities to come together to make a difference, and many are already making plans for how they'll celebrate.
Thinking about how your family or city will mark the occasion? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Is there a public park or downtown area that needs cleaning up? Get a group together to pitch in and clear the area of litter. Plant trees, shrubs and flowers to beautify it even more.
- Is there a 5th-grader in your family? Encourage him or her to participate in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest on the Arbor Day website (www.arborday.org).
- Organize a "Big Tree" or "Oldest Tree" search in your city. Once the results are in, publish a booklet with a map listing the locations of the trees, or try organizing a walking tour.
- City libraries might like to put books out for teens and young adults about trees and tree care. Story time for the younger children can focus on tree-related books or help the kids make bookmarks with a tree-related theme.
Other ways to celebrate
If you're a city or county employee, or a community organizer, you might like to arrange for a more formal event. Typical activities include reading an Arbor Day Proclamation and inviting the public to join in a tree-planting activity; arranging for welcoming comments by elected officials or community leaders, and inviting scouts or veterans groups to present the flag.
You might also consider inviting older members of the community who have participated in past years, and take pictures of them alongside trees that were planting years ago.
Ideas for school teachers and others
Classrooms might like to study trees, learn to identify those located around the school, create a tree key or learn to use one, or take a nature walk around their school campus and community. Teachers might enjoy having each student write a description of a tree on the school grounds, and then see if the rest of the class can find it using the description.
Nurseries, non-profits and timber companies might like to make tree seedlings available at no cost sometime during the month. This is a great way to promote your organization and give back to the community at the same time.
Lastly, everyone can enjoy reading a book about trees, learn to identify trees around the yard and neighborhood, or try volunteering. Consider contacting a local tree-planting organization like Friends of Trees. You'll meet new people and make a difference in your community.
Tree planting using "right tree, right place" principles
When choosing where to plant your new tree, the first consideration is what the tree needs, and what the area can provide. Here are five "tree needs" to keep in mind:
- Moisture: Each species can tolerate wet or dry conditions to a different degree: know your tree's watering requirements so you won't over or under-water.
- Know the specifics about your tree's height and crown size at maturity so you can properly situate it in the landscape.
- Once you've purchased your tree and are ready to plant, dig a hole wider than seems necessary, so the roots can spread without crowding. Remove any grass within a 3-foot circular area and then, to aid root growth, turn soil in an area up to 3 feet in diameter.
- Plant the tree at the same depth it stood at the nursery and partially fill the hole, firming the soil around lower roots; do not add soil amendments.
- Give your new tree plenty of water. Water it generously every week or 10 days during its first year.
Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872. On that day, more than one million trees were planted.
Today, in many communities around the world and in cities across our country, severe weather patterns, air pollution, and lack of support for strong tree programs has resulted in a decline of street trees. In fact, a recent U.S. Forest Service study indicates that tree cover in urban areas of the United States is on the decline at a rate of about 4.0 million trees per year. Oregon Arbor Week is the perfect opportunity to help turn this trend around.
In Oregon we set aside an entire "Arbor Week" to honor trees and educate children and adults about their many benefits - benefits that include clean air, water, wildlife habitat, and higher property values. This year, take some time to plan an outing with friends, organize a community event, or prepare a fun family activity.
Enjoy Arbor Week and remember, healthy, well cared-for trees will pay our communities back with benefits for years to come.
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