Arbor Day


Members of the city staff and council, the city’s Environmental Committee, and the fourth grade class from Genesis Elementary celebrated Arbor Day in New Port Richey on Jan. 19,  in Frances Avenue Park. This was the city’s 29th consecutive year of celebrating Arbor Day, which is part of the recognition the city received in the early 90s as a “Tree City USA.”

Joining the festivities this year included the Rotary Club of New Port Richey and Pasco County’s Keep Pasco Beautiful. The Rotary club is working with Rotary International and all clubs worldwide with a tree planting project to help replenish clean air and resilient soil. Keep Pasco Beautiful joined the club’s efforts by providing hundreds of tree seedlings that were handed out to attendees of this event all for the purpose of recognizing the importance of trees in our environment and in our world.

Former City Council member and chair of the committee, Dell deChant, presided over the event and offered a few words about the historic and contemporary context of the event and the City’s reforestation project. Also on the program were Mayor Rob Marlowe, City Manager Debbie Manns, and representatives from the New Port Richey Rotary Club.

After the children’s program about trees and what they do to help our environment thrive, the city’s Public Works department and the children planted a new tree in celebration of Arbor Day and the city’s designation as a National Tree City USA.

In 1854 J. Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska. At that time there were virtually no trees in the area and he and the other pioneers desired to have them in their surroundings. They also noticed that trees were needed to act as windbreaks to stabilize the soil and to provide shade from the sun, fuel and building materials. Morton planted many trees around his own home but wanted to encourage and enable others to do the same.

At a Nebraska State Board of Agriculture meeting on January 4, 1872, he proposed a holiday to plant trees on April 10, 1872. This was known as “Arbor Day” and prizes were awarded to the counties and individuals who planted the most trees on the day. A total of about one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

All states in the the country now have an official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that is has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees. Many observations of this day are in April, but Florida is one of nearly twenty other states that celebrates Arbor Day at different times of the year. Similar events to encourage the planting or care of trees are arranged in many countries around the world. The dates are usually chosen to coincide with the optimal season for planting or caring for native trees.

Arbor Day is symbolized by the trees that are planted on the day or as a result of fundraising activities. The official Arbor Day logo shows a mature deciduous tree and the words “celebrate Arbor Day.” The symbol of the Arbor Day Foundation is a similar tree in a circle, symbolizing the importance of trees to the whole planet. Local initiatives may use their state tree as a symbol.

###  (Photos by Marilynn deChant)

Photo 1:  Members of the City Council and the Environmental Committee pose with the fourth grade class and teachers from Genesis Elementary at the 29th annual Arbor Day event after the children’s program about trees that concluded with a song about the environment.

Photo 2: Keep Pasco Beautiful volunteers help event attendees choose tree seedlings at the 29th annual Arbor Day celebration at Frances Avenue Park in mid-January.

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