Green River Star -

By Kristine Lessard
Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Notes from Town Square: Arbor Day and Tree City USA


Arbor Day; a day in which individuals, families, groups and communities are encouraged to plant trees, trees and more trees. Come join us in celebrating Arbor Day in Green River May 9 at Centennial Park, located at 160 West Flaming Gorge Way.

The first Arbor Day took place in Nebraska April 10, 1872, orchestrated by Julius S. Morton; it is said that over a million trees were planted in Nebraska that year. Further yet, Julius set an example by the many plantings on his farm; planting trees for shade, wind breaks and even creating orchards. It was Julius who first proposed designating a special day for tree planting; a day in which increased awareness is provided, focusing on the importance of trees to our environment.

A second Arbor Day did not take place until 1884, followed by Nebraska recognizing the annual event as a legal holiday in 1885, using April 22 to coincide with Morton’s birthday.

It was not recognized as a national holiday until 1970 in which President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day, however, it is celebrated on varying weekends throughout the United States.

Trees play an important role in our environment, they bear fruit, provide shade, fuel, paper, medicines and serve as habitat for a variety of animals both large and small. In fact, a tree represents a small eco-system in itself; absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then returning the filtered air to the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. A general description of such might read: from the root system in the ground, water and other nutrients are absorbed, working with fungi to help convert nitrogen into nitrates (a nitrogen compound that plants can use). The tree may also bears bark, lichen and mosses, which in turn provides food for birds and other small animals, and of course, we have the branches where many a bird will build their nests. Trees will bring forth new trees through the fruit they bear; pinecones, pods, berries, and acorns; falling from the tree to the ground and becomes a new tree. Over time, the tree will die, rot and become consumed by yet more fungi and bacteria and eventually be taken back into the earth to start the cycle again, either as a tree or food for some other form of growth.

Through the Arbor Day Foundation came the “Tree City USA” honor. This title is bestowed upon communities that fulfill four requirements: creation of a tree board, a tree ordinance, a community forestry program with annual budget for tree care of at least $2 per capita and host an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Wyoming is home to 45 communities bearing the title “Tree City USA.” This means 62 percent of Wyomingites live in a “Tree City USA.” Green River boasts of being the second longest running “Tree City USA” in Wyoming; second only to Cheyenne, which holds the title with 33 years as of 2015; this is Green River’s 32nd year holding the honored title.

We hope to see you at Centennial Park May 9 for Green River’s 32nd Annual Arbor Day event. For more information call the Parks Office at 872-6151.


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