Plant a tree, save money and the environment

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We don't favor many discretionary budget increases at this stage of the economy, but it isn't hard to justify the McCook City Council's move to increase reimbursement for residents who choose to take advantage of the tree rebate program.

Meeting last week, the council increased the amount you can receive for planting a shade or ornamental tree from $50 to $75, and from $75 to $100 for oak trees.

At the same meeting, the council proclaimed Friday as Arbor Day, and planned a tree planting ceremony that day at 10 a.m. in the high school.

Promoting the growth of trees is nothing new for McCook or others in Southwest Nebraska, of course.

In fact, McCook, Imperial and Trenton just received their 26th annual designation as Tree City USA at the Nebraska Community Forestry Conference and Tree City USA Recognition Day, honoring "communities that have shown exceptional advancement in their dedication to tree enhancement."

They are not alone, of course. Arapahoe, for 23 years, and Farnam with four, received both Tree City USA and Growth Awards at the ceremony.

Other area Tree City USA towns and years involved include Beaver City, 22; Benkelman, 16; Cambridge, 15; Curtis, 23; Palisade, 17; and Wauneta, 18. In addition, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis received the Tree Campus USA designation for the second year.

Yes, trees are pretty, but what are the practical advantages of planting one?

We're glad you asked. And, the Arbor Day Foundation is glad to answer. The Nebraska City-based assembled a few answers:

* "The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day." -- U.S. Department of Agriculture.

* "Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent by shading the windows and walls of a home." -- American Public Power Association.

* "If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in five years, your energy bills should be 3 percent less. In 15 years, the savings will be nearly 12 percent." -- Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research.

* "A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000." -- Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

* "In one study, 83 percent of real estate agents believe that mature trees have a 'strong or moderate impact' on the stability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98 percent." Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests.

* "Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent." -- Management Information Services/ICMA.

* "One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people." -- USDA.

* "There are about 60 million to 200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, and saving $4 billion in energy costs." -- National Wildlife federation.

For more information on the McCook Tree Rebate Program, call (308) 345-2022.

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