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April 15, 2014

MADISON - What's the best kind of tree to plant this Arbor Day?

Consider the mighty basswood, with its towering canopy and 100-year plus lifespan. Or perhaps a graceful birch, dressed in shimmering white.

Jeff Roe, urban forestry team leader with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, says the best tree to plant depends on many factors including growing conditions, proximity to structures and size upon maturity. As tree-lovers of all kinds get ready to celebrate Arbor Day and its accompanying events at the state Capitol on Friday, April 25, Roe says another important element to consider, especially in response to the arrival of emerald ash borer, is diversity.

"On one level, selecting the right species for the site is critical. You want your tree to thrive and as it matures, you don't want it to interfere with overhead power lines or send its roots into a foundation,'' he says. "On another level, forestry practices are increasingly focused on species diversity. We're encouraging people to broaden the palette of trees they consider to help reduce the devastation that can occur from future diseases or invasive pests."

While everyone loves showy sugar maples and the crisp scent of white pines - two important native trees - Roe says Wisconsin residents also may want to consult with local nurseries about some carefully selected nonnative species. For example, the ancient ginkgo is native to China yet grows well in urban settings here thanks to its good soil salt tolerance and ability to handle heat stress.

Regardless of the variety you favor, Wisconsin Chief Forester Paul DeLong says planting a tree provides an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while sending an important message to future generations.

"Since 1983, we've increased our forested lands by more than 2 million acres," DeLong says. "With more than 47 percent of our state now covered by forest, today's children are benefitting from the land ethic and stewardship of those who came before them. By planting trees on Arbor Day and respecting our forests throughout the year, we're sharing our values with the generations to come."

DeLong will be among those speaking at the special state Capitol event celebrating the state's 131st Arbor Day. Starting at noon, the event will be attended by dozens of students from area schools and culminate in the planting of a red oak that will arrive in a giant tree spade truck courtesy of The Bruce Co. The planting site is just off of the sidewalk on the King Street side of the Capitol.

Madison musician Ken Lonnquist will be on hand to lead the crowd in songs celebrating the benefits of trees. Event sponsors include the Wisconsin Nursery Association, Wisconsin Arborist Association and Wisconsin DNR's Division of Forestry.

Those unable to join the celebration are encouraged to visit the DNR website for more tips on trees.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Wyatt, 608-267-0568

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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