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National Arbor Day, founded by Julius Sterling Morton, is a nationwide observance encouraging tree planting in the U.S.. The federally designated date occurs the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on dates better suited to their best tree-planting times.
In California, Arbor Day is celebrated March 7-14; in Oregon it is the first full week of April, and in Washington it is the second Wednesday in April.
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District Of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin observe the National Arbor Day on April 25.
Other states and their Arbor Day observation dates:
Henry David Thoreau was living in a cabin beside the Walden Pond in Massachusetts when he wrote about the fiery color of the native red maples growing along its shores. Now I can have a cutting of that history and transplant it far across the continent, well beyond the bounds of Walden, and in a place Thoreau could scarcely have imagined. In the tree's growth and maturity I will enjoy a connection with that past.
I may also plant a shortleaf pine from seed of the one that stands on Kill Devil Hill in North Carolina overlooking the meadow where Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their lighter than air machine. I will select high ground where the westerlies are strong and steady, inviting upward mobility, and through the pine's blue-green needles I expect to hear the rustling of the winds of change. Is there any better watch for our age than one whose forbear witnessed first flight?
And I will also plant a sycamore descended from the three on Baltimore Street that stood in the line of battle when Gettysburg was fought. Its hardwood will take firm root between my property and my neighbor's, a constant reminder of the horrors of conflict and the importance of common ground.
In planting witnesses to the past we stake our claim on the future. What grows with a memory of yesteryear will recognize fresh starts. By sowing history in a place we introduce not only new leaves and sprouts, but also new meanings.
Trees define a place, more so than is commonly recognized. What are the Rockies without evergreen forests and stands of aspen? What is New England sans its foliage? Deprived of its trees, there is no rain forest. Even the lack of trees sets a place apart: tundra, desert, steppe, barrens.
In the trunks of trees swells the history of a place, not only in the rings of time but in the seeds of regeneration branching out across the centuries. No tree stands alone, nor any man, but in its genetics carries a memory of days now reduced to dust. Its roots suck on the bones of all our ancestors.
I will plant a red maple sapling cut from the forests of Walden Woods beside a pond along the edges of the Great Basin and watch for the surveyor, Henry David Thoreau, to appear. He will be staking markers every forty rods across the continent and wondering how this dry knowledge of metes and bounds will affect his imagination and fancy.
"What a history this Concord wilderness, which I affect so much, may have had!" he exclaims.
Michael Hofferber © 2008 All Rights Reserved.
Morton was a striking figure, exhibiting an aggressive personality, a sturdy build, keen blue-gray eyes and prominent features. When he took it upon himself to instruct the people of the state in the modern techniques of farming and forestry, they were more than willing to listen. Because of his skill in this area, Morton was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Cleveland in 1893. He distinguished himself in that capacity by bringing his department to farmers as a coordinated service, and supporting Cleveland in setting up national forest reservations. But, Morton's greatest achievement resulted from his hobby of planting trees. He suggested that one day a year, to be known as Arbor Day, be set aside for tree-planting.
Morton established the first American Arbor Day in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on April 10, 1872. An estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska that year.
Alaska state tree
North Dakota state tree
Vermont state tree
Maryland state tree
Kentucky state tree
Oklahoma state tree
New Mexico state tree
North Carolina state tree
Arizona state tree
Arkansas state tree
How to Build a Treehouse