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Celebrate Georgia Arbor Day
Clark MacCallister

Dawson County will be celebrating the state Arbor Day on Friday, April 27. Arbor Day promotes awareness of trees and celebrates with mass plantings across the country.

Nationwide, the most common day for state ceremonies is the last Friday in April. However, many state Arbor Days are held at various times to coincide with better tree planting weather, from January in the south to May in the northern U.S.

The first official Georgia Arbor Day was proclaimed in 1890 by the Georgia General Assembly, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The first Arbor Day came about from the work of a Nebraska pioneer name J. Sterling Morton. Originally from Michigan, Morton moved to a homestead in the Nebraska Territory in 1854. He wasn’t happy with the lack of trees on his new property. Morton and his wife set about planting their homestead with trees, flowers, and shrubs, making their land somewhat of an oasis on the bleak Nebraska plain.

As the editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, J. Sterling Morton used his influence to spread his love and knowledge of trees. Most of his fellow pioneers hailed from the tree-covered lands of the eastern United States and missed their native trees, so Morton’s message did not fall on deaf ears. Nebraska needed more trees as well for shade, windbreaks, and fuel to support its expanding population.

Mr. Morton became the secretary of the Territory, and in 1872 he proposed a state-wide tree planting holiday. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872. More than one million trees were reportedly planted in Nebraska.

Dawson County will help carry on J. Sterling Morton’s ideas by having an Arbor Day ceremony of our own. The Dawson County Tree Preservation Committee and Keep Dawson County Beautiful will hold an Arbor Day celebration at 11 a.m. April 27 at Veterans Memorial Park.

We will plant a tree to honor the 2018 Dawson County Tree Preservationist of the Year, Mike Berg, former Dawson County Commission chairman. Berg was instrumental in implementing several groups which aim to preserve and beautify Dawson County.

For questions, please contact Clark MacAllister at clarkmac@uga.edu.