|Brownie Troop 1264 of Price, working with the Price City Shade Tree Commission, celebrated Arbor Day, Friday, April 25 by planting a tree on 200 East. The National Arbor Day Foundation has designated Price City, a Tree City USA, for the last 13 years. Pictured above are Jayde Moynier, Alex Richens, Erika Olsen, Shainey Hackney, Tasia Klarich and Samantha Jones.|
It has been 130 years since J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day. His simple idea of setting aside a special day for tree planting is now more important than ever. Utah celebrated Arbor Day last Friday, April 25. In Price the tradition continued as Brownie Troop 1264 worked with the Price City Shade Tree Commission, and celebrated Arbor Day by planting a tree on 200 East.
The National Arbor Day Foundation has designated Price City, a Tree City USA, for the last 13 years. Brownie Troop members involved included Jayde Moynier, Alex Richens, Erika Olsen, Shainey Hackney, Tasia Klarich and Samantha Jones.
The idea for Arbor Day originally came from Nebraska. A visit to Nebraska today wouldn't disclose that the state was once a treeless plain. Yet it was the lack of trees there that led to the founding of Arbor Day in the 1800s.
Among pioneers moving into the Nebraska Territory in 1854 was J. Sterling Morton from Detroit. He and his wife were lovers of nature, and the home they established in Nebraska was quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers.
According to Lyle Bauer, who heads up the Shade Tree Commission and supervisor of the cemetery, talks about his group's simple mission and that's to enhance community pride, health and liveability through the planting of trees, education of citizens as to the benefits and value of trees and promotion of proper tree care practices.
"Our vision for the citizens of Price is to value their community forest and are see to it that they are committed to its health, protection and growth," says Bauer.
The Shade Tree Commission is made up of five community volunteers as well as a city council representative and one area they are identifying as a need is education. "We focus on our youth because it is this group that can learn and understand how important proper procedures are in taking care of trees," Bauer explains.
He explained that topping trees was once a problem because of the lack of education. Now, as people understand the dangers involved with topping, basically because the new branches that sprout from the bark do not have the strength to sustain high winds and they easily break off, thus damaging the trees further and potentially causing other problems as they fall.
Although the group has been active in the past it has recently reorganized and are making a much more visible and proactive effort in the community.
Bauer did comment that planting trees has been a goal in Price since the beginning, sighting the mural in the city hall where Mayor Olsen, the first mayor, is pictured planting a tree in the late 1880's.
The group also works with groups and clubs to better select and care for trees. "It is important to choose the correct tree for specific areas," he says, adding, "the size of the tree and potential conflicts it will encounter, such as power lines are important factors."
|Flowering crabapple tree brightens up the Price cemetery as Arbor Day was recognized Friday, April 25.|
The commission has also worked extensively the past year with the trees that line the downtown Main Street. They believe that trees are an important part of a friendly and progressive downtown.
Morton, who founded Arbor Day, was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper. Given that forum, he spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees to an equally enthusiastic audience. His fellow pioneers missed their trees. But, more importantly, trees were needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.
Morton not only advocated tree planting by individuals in his articles and editorials, but he also encouraged civic organizations and groups to join in. His prominence in the area increased, and he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, which provided another opportunity to stress the value of trees.
Arbor Day's Beginnings
On January 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called "Arbor Day" at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting properly the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the young state's Governor Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, and the day itself was observed April 10, 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton's birthday, was selected as the date for its permanent observance.
According to accounts from the Nebraska City News, April 1885, the city celebrated Arbor Day with a grand parade and a speech by J. Sterling Morton. Students of different grades met at their respective school rooms in the morning for the purpose of planting at least one tree. Each tree that was planted was labeled with the grade, the time planted, and was to be specially cared for by that grade.
When the plantings were completed, 1000 students formed a line to begin the parade from the various schools to Nebraska City's opera house. In the parade, each class carried colorful banners made of satin with silk lining and trimmed with gold fringe. The letters on the banners were painted in oil colors. By the time the parade reached the opera house the throng numbered well over the 1000 as towns people joined the march. Every available foot of space in the opera house was occupied, the students having the front seats and gallery while the older persons stood. At 11:00, the throng of celebrants was addressed by the founder of Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton.
Mr. Morton was listened to with much attention, and loudly applauded at the close of his address. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, the students sang "America," and the large audience was dismissed.
This ended the first celebration of Arbor Day as a legal holiday, and, as reported by the newspaper, "... to say that it was a complete success but faintly expresses it. A celebration of this kind results in good to all, and is worthy of imitation by every school in the state."
During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, and the tradition began in schools nationwide in 1882. Utah has been part of these celebrations for many years.
Today the most common date for the state observances is the last Friday in April, as it was this year in Price and several U.S. presidents have proclaimed a national Arbor Day on that date.