NEWS | Dec. 3, 2013

Joint Base Charleston celebrates Arbor Day

By Keith Thompson 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Conservation Program manager

December 13 has been designated as Arbor Day on Joint Base Charleston. Arbor Day is a day we set aside to appreciate trees and recognize the benefits that we derive from them.

The first Arbor Day was started by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska. It was observed on April 10, 1872. Morton was a journalist who moved from his native Michigan to Nebraska. He realized his new home was basically a treeless plain so he strived to make his neighbors aware of the benefits that the landscape and the economy could gain from planting trees. Morton planted numerous fruit trees and also planted trees as wind breaks on his farm to keep soils in place.

Trees provide shelter and shade, building materials, habitat and food for wildlife and, among other things, are aesthetically pleasing. They also help by moderating climate, improving air quality and conserving water.

Following the example set by Nebraska, all 50 states now observe Arbor Day. In South Carolina, Arbor Day is celebrated in December. Joint Base Charleston leadership has always placed great emphasis on trees in our urban settings. We have a Joint Base Charleston tree ordnance which regulates how trees are managed on base. Trees that must be removed are closely scrutinized by the natural resources staff which includes our base forester. These trees must be replaced by planting new trees of a species that is indigenous to the area. We also have a commercial forestry program on the Weapons Station and North Auxiliary Air Field. Trees that are harvested in these area are being replaced when possible with long leaf pine, thereby, returning these areas to a long leaf pine ecosystem. In the past four years, approximately 285 acres of long leaf pine have been planted.

As Arbor Day approaches, take a few moments to notice the trees around you and do your part to ensure their health. Prune trees as necessary, remove diseased or hazard trees and plant new trees to help improve your environment.

Joint Base Charleston has received the Tree City USA award a total of 19 years as a testament to our excellence in urban forestry. To increase awareness of the importance of trees, the base will hold a formal tree planting ceremony in conjunction with our Earth Day celebration in the spring. For more information on Arbor Day, visit www.arborday.org.