Meridian Star

February 7, 2013

Arbor Day celebration set Friday

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Meridian will celebrate Arbor Day Friday at Ben Arthur Park with a tree-planting celebration.

    The Meridian Tree Commission invites the public to the celebration which will take place at 10 a.m. Friday.

    Mayor Cheri Barry will give the proclamation and the ceremony will conclude with a seedling tree giveaway sponsored by the Apache Foundation. Available seedlings are: Southern Red Oak, White Oak, Flowering Dogwood, and Eastern Redbud.

    The ceremony Friday at Ben Arthur Park will be at the access from 14th Avenue, 12th Avenue and 13th Street.

    Meridian was recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA in 1990 and has maintained the annual designation ever since.

    The idea for Arbor Day originated in Nebraska, once a treeless plain.  It was this lack of trees that led to the founding of Arbor Day in the 1800’s.

    J. (Julius) Sterling Morton was among the pioneers who moved into the Nebraska Territory in 1854.  He and his wife, Caroline were lovers of nature, and the home they established in Nebraska was quickly planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers.

    Morton 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 who missed their trees back home. But more importantly, trees were needed as windbreaks to keep soil from blowing and for fuel and building materials, as well as shade from the hot sun.

    Morton advocated tree planting to individuals in his articles and editorials, and encouraged civic organizations and groups to participate.  With his increased prominence in the area, he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, which provided another opportunity to stress the value of trees.

    In 1872, as a member of the State Board of Agriculture Morton introduced a resolution “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”  The board declared April 10, 1872 “Arbor Day.”  Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting properly the largest number of trees on that day.  More than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

    Today, National Arbor Day is observed the last Friday in April, but a number of states observe Arbor Day to coincide with the best tree-planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north.

Arbor Day became an official day of observance in Mississippi in 1926 and the second Friday in February was adopted as the day to annually observe Arbor Day.  

    2013 is the 141st Anniversary of Arbor Day.