Sterling’s Tree Board was created in December 2011 and has been dedicated to improving the urban forest of Sterling along with educating residents on tree issues.
Today, April 26, is Arbor Day in Illinois. The Tree Board will celebrate Arbor Day by planting six donated trees in the community.
Over the past 2 years, the Tree Board has worked with the city of Sterling to develop a tree ordinance and Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan, conduct an ash tree inventory, promote public awareness for tree issues, and develop 50/50 and 80/20 tree programs.
This year, the Tree Board would like to emphasize the history and importance of Arbor Day.
As pioneers moved westward, J. Sterling Morton came into the Nebraska Territory from Detroit, Mich., in 1854. Morton was a journalist and spread agricultural information along with his enthusiasm for trees to an equally enthusiastic audience. It was the lack of trees in Nebraska that led to the founding of Arbor Day because Nebraska was devoid of tree cover.
Many pioneers missed the forests and lush vegetation of the eastern U.S. and needed trees for fuel, windbreaks, lumber, and soil preservation. Morton encouraged the pioneers to plant trees on their homesteads. At a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture on Jan. 4, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day,” intended to increase the awareness of trees.
On July 10, 1949, Illinois became the eighth state to legally designate Arbor Day as the last Friday in April.
In 1972, on the 100th anniversary of Arbor Day, President Richard Nixon officially designated National Arbor Day also as the last Friday in April.
Arbor Day is now observed in every state, several nations, primarily in the schools, in recognition of the importance of trees to us as a nation, and of what they yield in adornment, comfort, and useful products to the communities in which we live.
In Sterling, trees provide numerous benefits such as storm water management, aesthetics, decreasing energy consumption, erosion control, and clean air, to name a few.
This Arbor Day, the Tree Board would like to encourage residents across the Sauk Valley to educate themselves on tree issues and celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree or properly caring for trees already here.
For more information on trees in Sterling, please visit the city’s website, www.ci.sterling.il.us/trees.cfm on the Internet.
Note to readers – Alan Skoog is a member of the Sterling Tree Board. He has owned Skoog Landscape and Design in Sterling since 1992.