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Celebrate Arbor Day

 Cottonwood tree fills the front yard of a northern New Mexico home.

Arbor Day is approaching. It's a day in which the Arbor Day Foundation encourages people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Arbor Day Foundation CEO Dan Lambe points out many positive aspects of trees.


Trees help to transform the communities in which they grow. Many people say they feel calmer and happier around trees.


"Trees are the most scalable and cost-effective tool in the fight against climate change," Lambe said in an article he wrote for Treehugger News on March 23. "Trees clean the air and vacuum up carbon. They foster biodiversity and support critical habitats."


Many animals and insects call trees home. Among them are lemurs, butterflies, bats, bears, frogs, birds and squirrels.


Trees help to make neighborhoods cooler and more comfortable in warm weather. That means people don't have to spend quite as much money keeping their homes cool in the summer.


Trees also help to improve many people's blood pressure. Their mental health improves and their creativity blossoms when they're around trees.


If trees grow near streams, rivers and irrigation ditches, they help to clean and filter the water. They play so many important roles in helping us to be healthier and happier.


In many parts of the United States, Arbor Day is celebrated the last Friday of April. However, some states schedule Arbor Day at a time that better coincides with local planting times. For example, in Hawaii it's celebrated on the first Friday in November. Alaska celebrates it the third Monday in May. In New Mexico, Arbor Day is the second Friday in March. To find out when Arbor Day is in your state, visit https://www.almanac.com/content/arbor-day-history-facts-date/.


Lambe says the Arbor Day Foundation is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. Arbor Day is a great day for anyone who cares about trees to plant, nurture and celebrate them. After all, they do so much to help us.

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Trees Keep Cities Cooler

Several trees surround homes in a neighborhood.
Trees in a city neighborhood

While riding a bicycle with a small weather station attached to it in 2016, Carly Ziter of Concordia University gathered some interesting facts about trees in city neighborhoods. She rode her bike around Madison, Wisconsin to collect a massive amount of data.


Those facts were carefully analyzed and studied by a team working with Ziter, and they came up with an interesting conclusion. They discovered that if trees cover 40 percent of a city neighborhood, those trees will provide maximum cooling benefits.


The study was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An article about the study written by Matt Hickman appeared in an April 1, 2019 Treehugger newsletter. Another one by Lloyd Alter appeared in the July 25, 2022 Treehugger newsletter. If you would like to know more about trees and many interesting facts about nature and gardens, go to www.treehugger.com and check out the interesting website. It's full of valuable information.


I can imagine Ziter riding around on her bicycle with a weather station as she collected all that data. She estimates she rode 400 to 500 miles around Madison, covering ten areas of the city many times during different hours of the day. That data showed that there are great economic benefits to having many areas in the city with a 40 percent tree coverage. The costs of removing pollution and the energy it takes to run air conditioners and other cooling devices are reduced. That can save many millions of dollars.


The study pointed out that planting trees just anywhere isn't always the best answer. Instead, Ziter suggested looking at areas that need a few more trees to help them reach the 40 percent coverage.


The trees promote cooling by providing shade and by a process called evapotranspiration. That process happens when the rays of the sun shine on the canopies of trees. It helps water to evaporate from leaves and cool them down. As a result, it takes less energy to warm the air.


I'm not sure what percent of tree coverage is in my city neighborhood, but I'm pretty sure it's less than 40 percent. My city is one of those that might benefit from having more trees. If trees cool the air, then people wouldn't have to use up quite so much electricity running air conditioners. If that would shave off even a few dollars from my electricity bill, it would be worth it!

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