For over a century a day to honor and plant trees has been celebrated. Originally founded in Nebraska in the 1800's, a day to plant trees was very significant to settlers, farmers, homesteads and ranchers still at work cultivating a vast prairie or wilderness.
And, while this year Arbor Day in San Francisco just happened to coincide with St. Patrick's Day, volunteers and SF DPW crews were pleased to do something for the environment by planting a tree.
Customarily the National Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, yet, many states have implemented state-recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region.
“Arbor Day is about planting, nurturing and celebrating trees,” said Dan Lambe, Vice President of programs at the Arbor Day Foundation
in Lincoln, Nebraska. “The trees being planted now will be enjoyed by this and future generations of San Franciscans.”
Since so much of the nation is now urbanized, many people often overlook the importance of trees. Trees and shrubs provide environmental health and nature-enhancing qualities to a neighborhood, community, town and city.
"Our Arbor Day Planting and Clean Up event planted and maintained over 40 trees throughout the City," said DPW director Mohammed Nuru. "40 trees in just one weekend is a lot of work." Yet as Nuru explained "we were pleased that volunteers joined us because they were able to help provide the love and care trees need to grow and thrive."
DPW works with Community Clean Team, a citywide volunteer program. Earlier on March 12 they hosted an event at George Washington High School to promote Arbor Day. On that Wednesday, more than 300 volunteers planted trees, worked on landscaping and gardening projects, painted over graffiti, and removed litter in neighborhoods throughout the City.
"Trees are more than just beautiful, they are a critical part of our City's effort to provide its residents with a green and livable city," said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. He and other city officials from the Board of Supervisors and Dept. of Public Works were present. "A healthy and vibrant urban forest is a gift we can give to the future generations of our City," he added. "I am proud to support San Francisco's Arbor Day, which focuses on not just planting trees, but maintaining them.”
For organizations in San Francisco like Friends of the Urban Forest,
Arbor Day is everyday. They work tirelessly, mostly on a volunteer basis to help residents and neighborhoods plant trees.
Program Director for FUF, Doug Wildman explained, "we plant throughout the City year around. We do planting at least two Saturdays per month. In addition to the planting we de-pave and install sidewalk landscaping at least once per month. All this we do with our volunteers and small staff." And, he said, "we prune approximately 4,500 trees per year with the help again of our volunteers."
Wildman also noted that FUF coordinates the Community Foresters, our Youth Tree Care Program and also sponsors interns, "all lead by our certified arborist staff," Wildman said.
To get an idea of the scope of FUF's outreach, Wildman noted, "our typical community-based planting day plants 30 to 80 trees by 1 pm." "The planting is then followed by a community potluck giving the community some time to celebrate their work, while also providing additional information on the care of their new tree."
Nuru was pleased with the efforts and hopes more people will participate and support tree planting in their area. For more information about planting a tree or helping to support tree maintenance, visit Friends of the Urban Forest
or SF Dept. of Public Works web site.