Trees are an investment in better times for future generations

Friday, April 24, 2020

City officials as well as everyone else have had plenty on their plate dealing the COVID-19 pandemic, but they, like the rest of us, know that someday, hopefully sooner than later, things will return to something closer to normal.

One of those normal activities is the city’s Tree Rebate program, which has earned McCook Tree City USA honors for several decades and made our community a better place to live for generations to come.

The rebate program is ready to go again, with the admonition that gardeners observe social distancing precautions as they go shopping for trees.

Another change this year is the focus tree, the Sugar Maple, described by the Arbor Day Foundation as “one of America’s most-loved trees. In fact, more states have claimed it as their state tree than any other single species—for New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont, the maple tree stands alone. One of its most prominent features is amazing fall color. As the seasons change, the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, burnt orange, and red.”

Check with your retailer for details; at least one is open by appointment only.

Nebraska is proud to claim Arbor Day, founded by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, who used his influence as a newspaper editor, territorial legislator, secretary of the Nebraska Territory, acting governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to, among other things, found the annual observance.

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

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.

Contact the City of McCook at 308-345-2202 or visit cityofmccook.com for updated information.

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