The Oregon Department of Forestry is encouraging the public to celebrate Arbor Week April 7 through 13 this year. The week is traditionally set aside to honor trees and educate people about their many benefits, including clean air, water, wildlife habitat and higher property values.

The ODF offers these ideas on community celebrations:

If you are a city or county employee or a community organizer, you might like to arrange for a more formal event. Typical activities include reading an Arbor Day proclamation and inviting the public to join in a tree planting activity.

Is there a fifth-grader in your family? Encourage him or her to participate in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest on the Arbor Day website,

Organize a “Big Tree” or “Oldest Tree” search in your city. Once the results are in, publish a booklet with a map listing the locations of the trees, or try organizing a walking tour.

Is there a public park or downtown area that needs cleaning up? Get a group together to pitch in and clear the area of litter. Plant trees, shrubs and flowers to beautify it even more.

Arrange for welcoming comments by elected officials or community leaders and invite scouts or veterans groups to present the flag. You might also invited older members of the community, including garden clubs and those who appreciate trees, and take pictures of them alongside trees that were planted years ago.

Lastly, everyone can enjoy reading a book about trees, learn to identify trees around the year and neighborhood or try volunteering. Consider contacting a local tree-planting organization like Friends of Trees.

Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872. On that day, more than one million trees were planted.

Today in many communities around the world and in cities across our country, lack of support for strong tree programs has resulted in a decline of street trees. In fact, a recent U.S. Forest Service study indicates that tree cover in urban areas of the United States is on the decline at a rate of about 4 million trees per year.

Oregon Arbor Week is the perfect opportunity to help turn this trend around.

This year, Arbor Day officials suggest that you take some time to plan a community event, organize a hike with friends or prepare a fun family activity.

Remember that healthy, well cared for trees will pay communities back with benefits for years to come.

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