Green River Star -

By Kristine Lessard
Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Notes from Town Square: Arbor Day in Green River


What is Arbor Day and what exactly is it all about, you ask? Well, let’s take the last 150 plus years and compact it into a few short paragraphs.

We’ll start in 1854 when a journalist turned pioneer named J. Sterling Morton, and his wife moved to Nebraska, as individuals who valued nature they planted greenery; shrubs, flowers and different varieties of trees.

It was through Morton’s writings that he was able to reach out to fellow pioneers, encouraging them to plant trees. The trees were good for soil conservation, shade, fruits, firewood, and of course, beauty.

By 1872, as the Secretary of the Nebraska Territory, Morton used his position to further his agenda of educating the public about the many benefits a single tree can hold. The first Arbor Day in Nebraska was held on April 10, 1872.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed on March 12, 1874 by Governor Robert W. Furnas, and became a legal holiday in Nebraska in 1885. And today Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states, with the official date being the last Friday in April. Wyoming’s official Arbor Day is the last Monday in April. Trees provide more than just shade, lumber or fruits – let’s go a bit further.

This Arbor Day, let’s focus on the many educational aspects trees can provide.

Science – a tree in itself represents an entire eco-system which is a collection of different organisms that inhabit the same habitat and function together along with the environment. From the roots which absorb water and air, the fungi that help the tree develop and absorb the nutrients on up the tree to the branches and limbs which can be home to lichen and mosses which in turn feed insects, birds and small mammals. Eventually the tree dies, decays and the cycle begins again.

Math, Social Studies and English – Learn to measure a tree’s crown, height or its age through counting its rings. Correlate historic events to the tree rings and write a story or a poem of the history that was taking place during the life of the tree.

Arts – you can create an art display from bark rubbings or leaves that have been collected.

Gardening – Hmm – let’s plant apple trees; an apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot.

Trees in themselves serve such a vital role in our environment. A few fun facts and reasons to plant a tree this Arbor Day might be to help combat climate change; trees can do this by aiding in cleaning the air through absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), removing the carbon and releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year an acre of mature trees can absorb the amount of CO2 produced by driving your car 26,000 miles or provide enough oxygen for 18 people.

Trees can help conserve home energy; by strategically placing trees around your home and creating shade you cut your air-conditioning needs, these same trees provide shade which will reduce the rate of evaporation when watering your lawn.

Trees, when properly mulched can act as a sponge reducing the amounts of storm water run-off acting as a filter allowing water to naturally replenish the groundwater as well as aid in the prevention of soil erosion.

Green River’s Arbor Day celebration will be held at Indian Hills Park at 10 a.m. May 21.


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