Arbor week is coming

Let's count the ways to celebrate

(The Oregon Dept. of Forestry)  In Oregon, we commemorate Arbor Week (April 7 - 13 this year) more so than Arbor Day. It's a great opportunity to get together with children, neighbors and friends to make a difference. Many cities are already making plans for how they'll celebrate.

Here's a few ways some cities and communities around the state are planning to celebrate:

The city of Salem is hosting a 9 a.m. tree planting event April 5 at Morningside Elementary School; Portland's "Arbor month" includes tree identification workshops and an Arbor Day Festival April 26th at Portland Farmers Market.

Sweet Home is holding an Arbor Day Poster Contest and a photo contest for schoolchildren, while in Medford, creative city staff are hosting a pirate-themed "Arrrbor Day" event April 5 to bring history, shipbuilding and the culture of trees together.

Finally, the small city of Echo celebrates its 25th anniversary as a Tree City USA on April 17 with a celebration that includes tree learning stations for kids and a tree trivia competition.

Other ways to celebrate
If you're a city or county employee or a community organizer, you might like to arrange for a more formal event. Typical activities include reading an Arbor Day Proclamation and inviting the public to join in a tree-planting activity.

* Is there a 5th-grader in your family? Encourage him or her to participate in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest on the Arbor Day website (www.arborday.org).
* Organize a "Big Tree" or "Oldest Tree" search in your city. Once the results are in, publish a booklet with a map listing the locations of the trees, or, try organizing a walking tour.
* Is there a public park or downtown area that needs cleaning up? Get a group together to pitch in and clear the area of litter. Plant trees, shrubs and flowers to beautify it even more.

Other ideas? Arrange for welcoming comments by elected officials or community leaders, and invite scouts or veterans groups to present the flag. You might also invite older members of the community, including garden clubs and those who appreciate trees, and take pictures of them alongside trees that were planted years ago.

Ideas for school teachers and others
Lastly, everyone can enjoy reading a book about trees, learn to identify trees around the yard and neighborhood, or try volunteering. Consider contacting a local tree-planting organization like Friends of Trees. You'll meet new people, and make a difference in your community.

Closing thoughts

Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872. On that day, more than one million trees were planted.

Today in many communities around the world and in cities across our country, lack of support for strong tree programs has resulted in a decline of street trees. In fact, a recent U.S. Forest Service study indicates that tree cover in urban areas of the United States is on the decline at a rate of about 4.0 million trees per year. Oregon Arbor Week is the perfect opportunity to help turn this trend around.

In Oregon we set aside "Arbor Week" to honor trees and educate people about their many benefits - benefits that include clean air, water, wildlife habitat, and higher property values. This year, take some time to plan plan a community event, organize a hike with friends, or prepare a fun family activity.

Enjoy Arbor Week and remember: healthy, well cared-for trees will pay our communities back with benefits for years to come.

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