National Arbor Day has lessons for all of us

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Glancing at the column heading, the reader might wonder if Bita Bullet slept through the Arbor Day celebration here in Opelika in February. This column is not as much about planting trees as it is about what we can learn from National Arbor Day.

April 27 is National Arbor Day and the first thing that jumps out at us is that Arbor Day is not celebrated on this date by all of our states. Many states used a common sense approach and changed the day to one more convenient to them. For example, most of the Southern states celebrate Arbor Day much earlier; the State of Alabama celebrates in February. The main reason for this earlier date is that trees planted in Alabama in February are more likely to live than trees planted at the end of April.

It is always good to see a common sense approach.

Most of us, at one time or another, feel that because we are just one person, we don’t count. At that time of feeling worthless, we would be wise to remember J. Sterling Morton.

When J. Sterling Morton moved from Detroit in 1854 to a western territory (now known as Nebraska), he and the other pioneers were shocked to see that there were no trees on much of the land.  They immediately realized that trees were needed for many purposes, such as wind breaks to protect the soil from the blistering wind and shade for their homes and for the animals. Trees could be used to provide badly needed building materials.

Morton was the editor of a popular newspaper in that territory and he used his influence with the paper to publicize the urgent need for trees. The movement was very successful.

In 1872, following Morton’s request to the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, Arbor Day, a day to plant trees was made a state holiday in Nebraska, and today is celebrated all over the world.

This year, Alabama residents have seen the results of a successful campaign by The Alabama Tree Recovery Campaign. This group, which includes the Alabama Forestry Commission and The Arbor Day Foundation, promoted the distribution of thousands of trees as the first phase in an attempt to replace trees demolished by tornadoes.

In addition to pointing out the common sense approach and the power one person can have, it is interesting to also point out, once again, just how lucky we are that voluntary participation means we are free to participate or not in our country. Read on to see what voluntary means in China’s Arbor Day.

In 1981, the Fifth National Congress of the People’s Republic of China adopted the “Resolution on the unfolding of a nationwide voluntary tree-planting campaign.” This established Arbor Day and stipulated that every able-bodied citizen between the ages of 11 and 60 should plant three to five trees per year, or do the equivalent amount of work in seedling, cultivation, tree tending or other services. Heavy fines can be levied if citizens do not volunteer.

It never hurts to remind yourself just how lucky you are to live in the United States.

Dogwood, river birch, willow, oak, and red maple are all popular tree choices, but Bita wants to suggest that you consider planting a couple of fruit trees, either the dwarf or regular size.

The dwarf can be planted in containers ,provided the container is large enough and has proper drainage. These dwarf trees produce fruit quickly. Talk to your extension agent.

Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at opelikaobserver@att.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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