Plenty of good reasons to plant a tree on Arbor Day

Friday, April 29, 2016

Trees were a rare commodity in the early days of Nebraska, a situation J. Sterling Morton sought to rectify through his efforts in Nebraska City, planting many rare varieties and heirloom apple trees around his 52-room mansion styled after the White House, now in Arbor Lodge State Historical Park.

He was a newspaper editor, territorial legislator, secretary of the Nebraska Territory, acting governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

But he's most remembered for founding Arbor Day, officially the last Friday in April, but which varies around the world according to the best time to plant a tree.

On the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted.

McCook has made the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA list for 30 years, and offers a popular tree rebate program, reimbursing homeowners who plant trees meeting certain guidelines.

The recent planting of a tree cloned from a tree that survived the Oklahoma City bombing illustrates our community's commitment to trees.

We're probably "preaching to the choir," but TreePeople.org offers some advantages of trees we might not have considered:

* Trees soak up carbon dioxide and store it while releasing oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.

* Trees also absorb odors and pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

* In one year, an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.

* Trees cool houses in a city by up to 10 degrees, breaking up "heat islands" and potential cutting summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent.

* Trees slow water evaporation from thirsty lawns and reduce runoff by breaking rainfall, allowing water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents pollution from entering rivers and the ocean, and when mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters the water naturally and recharge groundwater supplies.

* Trees shield children from ultraviolet rays and help reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent.

* Fruit trees provide food; an apple tree can yield 15 to 20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot.

* Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster with fewer complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature, and neighborhoods and homes that have trees and landscaping have less violence, according to TreePeople.org

Other advantages include serving as landmarks, providing a canopy and habitat for wildlife, wood for building, crafts and firewood, increasing property value and driving business traffic.

Check out the city's tree rebate program here: http://bit.ly/1SP0RP5

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