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Outdoors: Arbor Day

In Michigan, Arbor Day will be celebrated on last Friday of April.

But, it doesn't have to be.

The best day for Arbor Day is when conditions are best for planting trees.

But both here, and in Nebraska, where Arbor Day began, April usually IS a good time to plant.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation:

 “As pioneers began moving into the Nebraska Territory, the lack of trees was deeply felt. Not only did the new residents miss the trees they had left behind. They were also left without the trees they needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials and for shade from the hot sun.”

Once the newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he became a passionate advocate for trees.

And in 1872, Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be called "Arbor Day."

Besides making wood, tree save energy, reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, sequester carbon, and improve air and water quality, in addition to their value in making musical instruments and arts supplies.

About now, in the time between snowmelt and leaf-out, trees are absorbing enormous volumes of water from the ground.  

They’ll become totally saturated, between 25-50% water.  

Trees store and continue to absorb thousands of gallons of water through their roots throughout the growing season.  

Then, during spring and to a lesser degree, summer, trees slowly release the water from through their leaves or needles in a process called transpiration.  

In northern forests, this may be the most significant way water evaporates and returns to the water cycle.

We must plant trees.

And now we now understand that planting a variety native trees is one of the very best ways to help the environment.  

As J. Sterling Morton wrote long ago, "Arbor Day is not like other holidays.

Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.”

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.