Today is Arbor Day in North Carolina. (In our state, Arbor Day falls on the first Friday after March 15.) Many communities around the state also celebrate their own Arbor Day in spring.
A majority of the communities celebrating Arbor Day are recognized as Tree Cities by the national Tree City USA program, which is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation. Over 3,400 cities and towns in the United States are recognized as Tree Cities, and 85 of them are in North Carolina. From Charlotte all the way down to Bald Head Island with its 158 residents, nearly 4 million people in North Carolina live in a Tree City.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the Tree City USA program, but whether a community in North Carolina has been a Tree City for 37 years or one year, it is something to celebrate. Communities achieve Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Why is Arbor Day important? It’s a reminder about the importance of trees to a community. When properly planted and maintained, trees help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits. If you don’t live in a Tree City USA, maybe it’s a good time to help your community become one. Check out the Arbor Day Foundation and N.C. Forest Service to find out more and how you can be involved.
The N.C. Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry Program works with all communities, not just Tree Cities, to promote good management and care of their urban trees, and assists communities to become a Tree City USA. To learn more about the Urban & Community Forestry Program, visit http://ncforestservice.gov/Urban/tcusa_NC_Participants.asp.
In celebration of Arbor Day, the State Farmers Market in Raleigh will hold a special event tomorrow (March 19) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include a tree seedling giveaway, forestry exhibits, demonstrations and a KidZone with youth activities. It will also include a celebration of the North Carolina State Parks system’s centennial. And Smokey Bear will be on site to celebrate North Carolina’s natural resources and pose for photographs with market visitors.
The event is sponsored by the Triangle Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, N.C. Forest Service and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at N.C. State University.