New Mexico celebrates Arbor Day

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By The Staff

 Residents of New Mexico will celebrate Arbor Day 2009 on March 13. While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, New Mexico, similar to several other states, observes the holiday at a time best suited for tree planting.

The Arbor Day Foundation encourages everyone to plant a tree to celebrate this special holiday. The Foundation’s Web site (www.arborday.org) offers many helpful tips from how to plant a tree to selecting the right tree for the right place.

New Mexico has nine Tree City USA communities. Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. The program was established to recognize communities that are committed to its trees. More than 120 million Americans live in a Tree City USA community. To see a list of Tree City USA communities, go to www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA.cfm.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Neb., resident J. Sterling Morton. Morton, a civic leader, agriculturist, and former newspaper editor, urged Nebraskans to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920, more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.

The Pinon tree, Pinus edulis, was adopted as New Mexico’s state tree in 1949 by The New Mexico Federation of Women’s Clubs. A historic favorite, this small tree grows over much of the state. Sixteenth century explorers made note of this nut bearing tree and archeologists have found evidence of the nuts in the cliff dwellings and in ancient Native American pueblos. The nuts from this slow growing tree are a local and national favorite, and its wood is often used as fuel, causing a fragrant perfume as it is used for heat or cooking. The tallest Pinon tree recorded is in Cuba, N.M., reaching 51 feet. This kind of growth is very uncommon as it takes hundreds of years to grow up to 30 feet.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly 1 million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs or ways to celebrate Arbor Day can be found at www.arborday.org.