No plans for Arbor Day? We've got some ideas

Tomorrow, April 29, marks the 150th anniversary of an often overlooked but important holiday.

The first Arbor Day was held April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. Newspaperman J. Sterling Morton (Morton Arboretum founder Joy Morton’s father) proposed a day to encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. The campaign was a success, and more than a million trees were planted.

Eventually the holiday was adopted by more states and the federal government and moved to the end of the month.

Village President Tom Cauley issued the annual Arbor Day proclamation for the Hinsdale at Tuesday night’s village board meeting.

The proclamation notes that trees in the village improve air quality, increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas and beautify the community. It also highlights the fact that the village has been recognized as a Tree City USA for 30 consecutive years by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The village has some 14,738 trees on public property, including parkways, parks, street islands and alleys. John Finnell, the superintendent of parks and forestry, leads a crew that includes four certified arborists who are involved with tree planting, tree pruning, tree preservation, tree and stump removal and insect and disease management.

The latter has become a more difficult task in recent years. The village has some 540 ash trees are susceptible to the Emerald ash borer and about 1,370 American elm trees that can fall victim to Dutch elm disease.

To help protect the trees, staff last year treated 253 ash trees with insecticides and 399 elm trees with fungicide.

Efforts are made to replace those trees that, despite these efforts, don’t survive. Public services staff planted 269 new trees last year, with three planted by residents through the village’s reimbursement program and three planted through its Tribute Tree program.

Last week, a group of volunteers planted four trees as part of a park cleanup tied to Earth and Arbor days and the Rotary Club of Hinsdale is planting five more this week.

The Arbor Day Foundation is making similar efforts on a national scale. The foundation has set a goal to plant 500 million trees — the number it has planted over the past five decades — in the next five years as part of its effort to offset carbon emissions, advocate for environmental justice, build healthier communities and protect the planet.

During this week, the foundation will plant one tree for each Instagram, Twitter or Facebook post with the hashtag #ArborDay up to 75,000 trees. Kimberly-Clark is matching the effort, so up to 150,000 trees will be planted.

Residents also can mark Arbor Day by purchasing a tribute tree to honor or remember a special individual and contribute to the whole community. Trees can be purchased to celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary or the life of a loved one.

Gifting a tree to someone is actually one of 150 ideas the Arbor Day Foundation lists to celebrate the holiday. Suggestions include everything from making a bird feeder out of pine cones to hugging a tree.

Maybe the best way to cap off the day is to take a walk down your favorite tree-lined street in Hinsdale, enjoying the fragrance of the trees in bloom and noticing the buds emerging on the branches of others.

Happy Arbor Day!