Colorado’s Arbor Day is April 20
What’s the favorite holiday at Donovan Arborists? Arbor Day, of course! And in Colorado Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of each April. This year that gives us a one-week jump on the national celebration, held on the last Friday of the month, the 27th.
Arbor Day History
Tree planting ceremonies have been around throughout history. They celebrate the importance of trees in our lives, mark new beginnings, and memorialize important events and people. And unlike most other celebrations that commemorate former events, planting trees looks to the future rather than the past.
But it took a settler on the treeless plains of Nebraska to make tree planting a national holiday.
When newspaperman Julius Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to Nebraska Territory in 1854, he was struck by the lack of trees in the landscape. He used his newspaper as a forum to encourage fellow settlers to plant trees and shrubs for windbreaks, fuel, lumber, and shelter from the harsh prairie weather. He even encouraged people to set aside a day each spring to plant trees.
Building on that idea, in 1872 Sterling approached the new Nebraska legislature with a proposal “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The legislature accepted Sterling’s proposal and declared April 10 to be Nebraska’s “Arbor Day.” Prizes were offered for properly planting the largest number of trees that day leading to more than 1 million plantings statewide. The idea spread to other states and by 1920 over 45 states and territories had added an Arbor Day to their calendars, as had several European countries. Today Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 US states and has spread worldwide.
Why Have an Arbor Day?
Why? Sterling’s own words answer the question:
“Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.”
“[Arbor Day] … is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
“... how much more enduring are the animate trees of our planting. They grow and self-perpetuate themselves and shed yearly blessings on our race.”
Arbor Day in Colorado
Several communities and districts have special events for this Arbor Day.
In Denver, The Park People has an annual Arbor Day Tree Sale at Sloan Lake Park on April 15 from 7 am to 5 pm. The sale has highly discounted rates on yard and fruit trees with beautiful flowers and fall color. Sales support the organization and the hundreds of low-cost trees it distributes to Denver residents each year.
In the Fort Collins and Colorado Springs areas reforestation projects kick off to replace trees lost in recent fires.
Boulder’s forestry department is undertaking an effort to replace trees lost to the emerald ash borer infestation.
On the 21st the Town of Superior will hold Arbor Day festivities from 10 am to noon at Wildflower Park that starts with a presentation from the Colorado State Forest Service followed by a morning full of tree planting, educational and eco-friendly vendors & crafts, an Arbor Day Art contest, and park games.
Parker Parks and Recreation hosts a free annual Arbor Day celebration at Discovery Park. This year it’s on April 28 from 9-11:00 am. The Town’s Parks and Forestry team will be there to answer questions about tree planting, pruning and tree selection.
For more information about Arbor Day, its history and ways to celebrate, visit the Arbor Day Foundation website, www.arborday.org.