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Jill Sanford | 04.21.2017

Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.

-J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day

Arbor Day is an annual observance that promotes stewardship and tree planting while celebrating and honoring trees and the natural world. It was established in Nebraska in the 1800s when Julius Sterling Morton, a pioneer from Detroit and nature lover, wrote in the territory’s first newspaper about his enthusiasm for trees and gardening.

The first observance of Arbor Day occurred in 1872 on April 10, and today it is celebrated in all 50 states. The exact date of the event varies by location, but throughout most of the U.S. it is now celebrated on the last Friday of April. To learn when Arbor Day is in your state, check out the official dates across America.

Show some appreciation for the trees in your life by celebrating Arbor Day this year. Even if your state’s date is fast approaching or already occurred, it’s never too late to get out there and enjoy nature in one more more of the following ways.

  1. Go for a hike through the forest. Be awed by the redwoods, entertained by the quirky Joshua trees, or just comforted by a sturdy oak. Check out Palm Trees on the Fortynine Palms Oasis Hike or the oldest trees in the U.S. on the Bristlecone Pine Trail. Your options are unlimited! 
  2. Pick up trash around your neighborhood or local park.
  3. Volunteer with a local trail crew or watershed council and spend the day swinging a pick or a shovel.
  4. Learn how to identify the trees that you see on a daily basis, both out in the woods in your region or on your daily commute.
  5. Research the lands where you get outside most often. Is it BLM land, national forest, a state park, owned by a local land trust, or what? Knowing who the official stewards of your favorite places are makes a huge difference in how it is managed.
  6. Schedule or take a class on tree pruning, planting, etc. Call around to your local nurseries or gardening shops to see if they are interested in hosting something like this.
  7. Organize a community gathering. A block party, arts and crafts event, a hike, and a storytelling session are all great ways to honor your local forest.
  8. Plant a tree.


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