Arbor Day celebrates awareness of trees within our communities and promotes tree planting across the country.
We all know the benefits trees bestowed upon us: Shade, cleaner air, erosion control, wind buffering, wildlife habitat and aesthetic beauty. Of course trees deserve an official day.
Arbor Day is now an official U.S. holiday, but have you ever wondered just how this came about?
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the notion of Arbor Day came about through the work of a Nebraska pioneer named J. Sterling Morton.
He was originally from Detroit, and when he arrived at his new Nebraska homestead in 1854, he found it seriously devoid of greenery. He and his wife soon filled their new yard with trees, shrubs and flowers, which seemed like an oasis compared to the bleak surroundings of the Nebraska plains.
Morton, a journalist, became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper, and he used this forum to spread his knowledge and enthusiasm about trees. Most of his fellow settlers came from the eastern U.S., and they missed the native forest lands.
More importantly, the pioneers needed more trees for windbreaks, shade, and for fuel and construction purposes.
Morton used his editorials to encourage mass tree plantings by individuals and large civic organizations.
Morton eventually became the secretary of the Nebraska Territory.
In 1872, at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, he proposed a statewide tree planting holiday.
The first "Arbor Day" was held on April 10, 1872. It was reported that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day.
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.
In 1941, Georgia's Arbor Day was set for the third Friday in February. The February date allows our newly-planted trees to acclimate before the harsh summer heat.
It doesn't take much to celebrate Arbor Day. Helping to plant a new tree is all it takes.
Here in Dawson County, you will have an opportunity to celebrate with the rest of the community.
The Dawson County Tree Preservation Committee will hold its annual Arbor Day ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday at Veterans Memorial Park, Hwy. 9 North, Dawsonville.
We will honor the Dawson County Tree Preservationist of the Year.
The Georgia Forestry Commission will also be handing out free tree seedlings at the celebration.
Clark MacAllister is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706)265-2442.