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April 17, 2012

MADISON -- Arbor Day, a day set aside for planting trees, is celebrated each year on the last Friday of April in Wisconsin and on a day during the appropriate tree planting season in all 50 states and around the world. Arbor Day was started by Nebraska journalist J. Sterling Morton and the first official Wisconsin observance of this holiday was in 1892.

The 2012 proclamation of Wisconsin's Arbor Day" and Forest Appreciation Week (April 22-28) notes the social, cultural, ecological and economic importance of trees and encourages citizens in their awareness and appreciation of this valuable natural resource.

Planting trees is good for both the environment and those planting the trees, according to Paul DeLong, chief state forester.

"Trees improve our quality of life in so many ways and are vitally important to our communities. Like electricity and water, an urban tree canopy is an essential part of community's infrastructure, providing a multitude of benefits. Planting a tree on Arbor Day can help community residents of all ages appreciate the trees where they live and encourage them to help maintain the resource," De Long said.

"Learning new skills and being part of something that will have a long-lasting impact are a couple more ways that planting trees helps kids," he adds. "Most importantly, it gets them outdoors and gives them a sense of community."

Hundreds of local Wisconsin communities will be holding tree planting ceremonies over the next couple of weeks. In fact, holding an Arbor Day celebration is one of the requirements for communities to earn and maintain certification as a Tree City USA, a national program that provides technical assistance and public recognition for urban and community forestry programs. Wisconsin ranks third in the nation with 182 communities with Tree City USA certification.

DNR will be inviting the schools and communities - and anyone else who is celebrating Arbor Day - to share a photo of their tree planting activities on the DNR Facebook page.

The Wisconsin Nursery Association and The Bruce Company are donating a large sugar maple tree and use of a large mechanical tree planting spade for a tree planting ceremony on the State Capitol lawn, supporting the landscaping plan to replace large trees at the capitol building that are nearing the end of their lifespan.

More than 150 students will participate in this event, joined by Smokey Bear, Bucky Badger and Alice in Dairyland Friday, April 27 at 11:45 a.m. on the Capitol Square at the corner of East Mifflin and North Pinckney streets. Additional supporting sponsors of this event are Wisconsin DNR, Wisconsin Arborist Association and the Blackhawk Chapter of the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association.

Thousands of Wisconsin school children will also be celebrating Arbor Day and planting small tree seedlings provided at no charge to fourth grade classrooms in Wisconsin.

The DNR nursery program has grown more than 1.5 billion tree seedlings during its 100-year history. Those trees have been planted by Wisconsin forest landowners for reforestation. As a special treat for Wisconsin students, DNR is offering a recording of the song "Why Plant Trees" with singer/songwriter Ken Lonnquist on YouTube .

For more information search for "Arbor Day" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kirsten Held - 608-264-6036

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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