By John Erixson
This Friday we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arber Day. Here in Nebraska, we look forward to planting more trees and leaving a legacy for future generations. Do you think those who started this great movement would have thought it would become a national holiday or an international event?
In a monument recognizing J. Sterling Morton as the founder of Arber Day, the inscription reads: “Other holidays rest in the past; Arber Day proposes for the future. ” These words are very true, even today. By planting trees in the present, we have the power to benefit future generations of people across the United States and the world.
Consider the challenges of the past two years and name a better place to regroup and replenish than in our forests and natural areas — you can not, can you? Trees benefit our physical health and mental well-being. They give us a sense of calm and peace, as well as space to learn and grow. The trees in our communities and on our farms protect us from the winds of winter and the heat of summer; they purify our air, provide us with abundant fresh water to drink, and offer us a solution to climate change. Tom Boggus, a former Texas state forester, often said, “Trees are the answer; now what is the question? ” I could not agree more.
As I walk through the forests of Nebraska, I find myself admiring the strength and beauty of the trees. I can not help but notice the individual features of each. I wonder what has happened in the past to make that tree grow this special way. I think of the storms the tree endured and the winters that came and went as the tree grew and became stronger. I wonder if anyone planted this tree and if they had it, did they imagine what it would be like today. Maybe they did; I hope they did.
The essence of Arber Day is to plant a tree both for your present pleasure and for the good of all who will follow it. Trees are our silent partners that grow beside us, demanding little while offering so much. This Arber day is a special day for all of us. We celebrate 150 years of planting trees, 150 years of caring and 150 years of recognizing the value of the trees that add to our lives.
I hope you will take a moment to plant a tree to protect our environment and honor those forward-thinking tree planters who came before you. You can always find peace and quiet among the trees and in your forest. Happy Arber Day to all.
John Erixson is the state of Nebraska forester and chairman of the NASF Urban and Community Forest Committee.