Celebrate Arbor Day at Jones Park

Cleaner air, shadier streets, and more attractive communities. What’s not to love about trees? For more than 150 years, Americans have demonstrated their appreciation of trees through annual Arbor Day celebrations.

Kicking off April 10, 1872 with widespread public support, the first Arbor Day resulted in an estimated one million trees planted throughout the Nebraskan plains. When news of the event spread, schools and cities across America adopted the annual tree-planting holiday. In 1970, President Richard Nixon declared the first Friday in April as National Arbor Day.

The event marked a turning point in how early Americans viewed trees. Throughout the 1800s, much of the nation’s forests were destroyed because of agricultural land clearing, logging, and massive wildfires. By 1920, new policies promoting conservation helped stabilize the nation’s forests. By 2000, the National Forest Service noted the average tree volume per acre is about one-third greater today than in 1952 and is almost double in some areas.

Today, Arbor Day is one of the few national holidays celebrated in cities and states across the nation and internationally, in countries such as Australia, Germany, Canada, and China. Because of differences in climate, many southern cities and states celebrate a statewide and citywide Arbor Day during their region’s tree planting season. As a result, it’s not uncommon for an area to host both a state and local Arbor Day celebration.

In Harris County, residents celebrate Texas Arbor Day on the first Friday in November and Houston Arbor Day in late January. Like many southerners, Texans have historically celebrated Arbor Day in the fall and winter to allow the tree time to establish a healthy root system before summer. Because of Houston’s sub-tropical climate and mild winters, arborists consider late January a prime time to establish trees. By then, many trees are still dormant with warmer weather only a few short months away.

Visitors can help celebrate the next winter Arbor Day with a two-day event at Jones Park starting Saturday, Jan. 19. Festivities kick off with a presentation in the Nature Center at 10 a.m. followed by a forest hike at 2 p.m. Both days will also feature information booths and tree sapling giveaways.
For more information, visit www.hcp4.net/jones.