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Conservation Department encourages Missourians to plant native trees.

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Joplin High School students water a freshly planted tree.

Joplin High School students water a freshly planted tree.

MDC: Celebrate Missouri trees during Arbor Days in April
Conservation Department encourages Missourians to plant native trees.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds Missourians that trees and forests throughout the state are valuable to our health, communities, economy, and environment. MDC encourages Missourians to celebrate the value of Missouri trees and forests on Arbor Days in April by planting native trees and practicing proper tree care.

National Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of April, which is April 24 for 2015. In addition, each state determines its own Arbor Day based on its unique climate and weather patterns. Missouri has been observing Arbor Day since 1886 when the General Assembly declared that the first Friday in April should be set aside for the appreciation and planting of trees.

This year’s Arbor Day in Missouri has been recognized through a proclamation by Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon as April 3. According to the proclamation:

Forests cover approximately one-third of the state;
Forests provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for stream and rivers;
Forests provide employment for more than 33,000 people who convert trees into essential products;
Forests contribute beauty and shade to urban, suburban, and rural areas while creating a more pleasant and healthful environment; and
Missouri will continue to benefit from its forests for succeeding generations through tree planting and conservation.
MDC encourages Missourians to plant native trees. Get more information on selecting proper trees for specific locations, along with planting tips, online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3321.

The Department’s George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers Missouri residents a variety of native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, and erosion control, as well as for wildlife food and cover. Orders are accepted from Nov. 1 to April 15 every year. For more information, visit the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/node/4011.

In celebration of Arbor Days and in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) “Trees for Tomorrow” program, MDC distributes nearly 100,000 native tree seedlings from its George O. White State Nursery to fourth-grade classes from more than 1,300 schools throughout the state each spring for local tree plantings. MoDOT supports the production and distribution of the trees to offset the natural resources it may disturb during construction activities. The seedling distribution supports MDC’s Discover Nature Schools program, which provides grade-appropriate curriculum and outdoor, hands-on activities to help students learn about the importance of conservation.

Communities around the state also hold local Arbor Day activities. For more information on Arbor Day and Missouri’s 85 designated Tree City USA communities, visit arborday.org and search “Missouri.”

For more information on how trees work for your wallet, health, family, community, environment, and economy, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/19335.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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