Plant a Tree for Arbor Day – February 13
While National Arbor Day is celebrated in April, Mississippi’s Arbor Day is always the second Friday in February. Mississippi and many other states have set their Arbor Day to coincide with the best tree-planting time for that state.
In 1854, J. Sterling Morton moved to the Nebraska Territory. As a lover of trees and nature, Morton was dismayed by the total lack of trees on the plains. He and his wife quickly established trees, shrubs, and flowers around their home. As a journalist and editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, Morton spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees. Most pioneers missed the trees of their homelands and recognized the need for trees as windbreaks, to keep soil from blowing, for fuel and building materials, and to provide shade from the hot summer sun. Morton not only advocated tree planting by individuals, but he also encouraged civic organizations and other groups to join in.
In 1872, Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday called “Arbor Day”. The date was set for April 10, 1872, and it was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
There are several proven benefits of trees. Trees not only produce oxygen, but they also cleanse toxins and other impurities from the air. One acre of trees absorbs enough carbon dioxide per year to match that emitted by a car driven 26,000 miles in that year. Trees and shrubs slow down rainwater, helping runoff to soak into the soil at a slow and even rate, and they also cleanse ground water as it filters through their root systems. Yards with mature trees can be several degrees cooler than yards without trees in the hot summer, and well placed trees can reduce cooling bills. Trees improve a landscape and in most areas property values increase when mature trees are on the property.
We should remember Arbor Day and while you may not reap its full benefits, generations to come will appreciate your work in the tree you planted. Now is planting time – grab a shovel and plant a tree.