By Mary Reid Barrow
On the first Arbor Day almost 150 years ago, I wonder if the founders ever dreamed that trees would be as important to our existence as they are today.
Even then, the significance of trees was very apparent to the founders of Arbor Day. They were settlers on the windswept plains of the Nebraska Territory and they missed their trees that grew in abundance back East.
They needed trees to serve as wind breaks to keep the soil in place on their farms and they needed wood to build homes and fuel their fireplaces.
So these Nebraskans created the first Arbor Day in 1872 a few years after Nebraska became a state. They celebrated by planting about a million trees.
Today, we need trees for many more reasons than windbreaks, fuel and lumber. Here in Virginia Beach, every day is arbor day, because we have learned that trees may very well save us from the effects of sea level rise and climate change, that they are essential to our very existence.
For example trees take in carbon dioxide that poisons the air, stores the carbon and returns oxygen to the Earth.
Trees absorb water to slow flooding and they hold soil with their roots to slow erosion.
Trees provide food and homes to the majority of of our insects, and other critters.
We have been tree huggers for years, because we have always known that trees give shelter, shade and beauty to us humans.
But these days, hug a tree like your life depends on it, because it does.
Celebrate the real Arbor Day this Friday (April 30) with LRNow on a Notable Tree Tour and visit some of Virginia Beach largest and oldest trees. Among other beauties, see an almost 300- year-old sycamore tree that grows at the Francis Land House. Try to get your arms around that tree to give it a hug!
The tour from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday (April 30) will begin at the Brock Environmental Center. Participants will be met by LRNow’s Notable Tree coordinator Brent James. He will lead a caravan of cars to see Notable Trees in the northern part of the city.
Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell? What relationships have you observed between plants and critters? Who eats whom? Who has babies where? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org