The importance of Arbor Day

Porter Library Director Andrew Mangels and Westlake Garden Club President Marsha McEntee shovel dirt on a newly planted tree at the library. Photo by Tara Wendell

Trees are such a big part of our lives that sometimes we tend not to notice them, to take them for granted. Then once a year on the last Friday in April, we see articles written and programs taking place to celebrate Arbor Day.

The first official Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1874, in Nebraska. Soon other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day and it became a nationwide tradition by 1882. It was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day.

All of this came about because of the efforts of a pioneer by the name of J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and editor who became secretary of the Nebraska Territory. Morton and his wife loved nature and came to realize the importance of trees to the landscape and environment. Besides the visual beauty and shade to protect us from the sun, trees are functionally significant in controlling storm water and soil erosion, conserving energy, and removing pollutants from the air and water. Trees also provide nesting sites for birds, food for birds and other animals, and nuts, seeds and fruit for our own diets.

We protect the things that we value, and we should protect our valuable trees. Morton said, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees.” We are very fortunate to live in a community that recognizes the importance of trees to our quality of life. And so on Arbor Day 2016, the Westlake Garden Club planted an Ivory Silk Tree Lilac in the Reading Garden at Westlake Porter Public Library. This tree can grow to 25 feet, is low maintenance, fragrant and showy with creamy white blooms May to June and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. As this tree grows, our generation and future generations will enjoy its beauty and rest in its shade.

The Westlake Garden Club has been planting a tree in the City of Westlake every year on Arbor Day for over 40 years, but of course we cannot do it on our own. We would like to thank Brian Corrigan and Cahoon Nursery for again donating this beautiful tree and Stan Barnard, urban forestry manager for the City of Westlake, for coordinating the tree and site selection. Thanks to Paul Quinn, Westlake service director, and his staff for their part in this ceremony (they dig the hole and plant the tree). We could not do it without them. And, a special thank you to Kathy Molner of the Westlake Garden Club for making all of the initial contacts for this year’s program. Kathy was the driving force behind the garden club making the Arbor Day Tree-Planting Celebration happen every year for over 40 years.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 9:43 AM, 05.03.2016