VILLAGE OF BRONXVILLE, NY — April 24, 2018 — On Friday, April 27, the entire nation celebrates Arbor Day. Though nothing ceremonially planned in Bronxville, it will signal the start of our street tree plantings throughout the Village.
As point of history, the first Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872 when an estimated one million trees were planted in one day. The brainchild behind it was J. Sterling Morton, a westward pioneer born in Detroit.
Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska’s premier newspaper which he used to advocate for families and civic organizations to plant the trees they so missed from home. He recognized even more than the aesthetic; trees were needed as windbreaks to keep the soil in place, for fuel and building materials and for shade from the hot sun.
According to accounts, Nebraska City celebrated Arbor Day with grand parades and school children planting and then specially caring for the trees they planted.
In 1885, it became a legal holiday in Nebraska and other states soon followed. It is now a national observance on the last Friday in April, complete with Presidential Proclamations.
In the spirit of Arbor Day, the Village has redoubled its efforts to plant trees lost in the past decade to storms as well as trimming and feeding those able to survive, as we recognize they are our most valuable natural resource. The benefits of trees make them the best bang for the buck in preserving the character – and health of our Village.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen back in the air. In just a year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by 26,000 car miles and produce enough oxygen for 18 people! They also absorb odors and pollutant gases and filter dirty particulates out of the air.
In the energy realm, just three trees placed strategically around a single family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by 50%. Trees placed in commercial areas can lower temperatures of parking lots and break up black topped “heat islands.” Shade from the trees also slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns and parks.
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. The slow runoff also prevents erosion by holding soil in place.
They also mask concrete walls, parking lots and unattractive views while absorbing dust and wind and reducing glare. Planted strategically, they also muffle sound from streets, trains and highways.
Of great importance is the role they play on school properties and playgrounds. They reduce UV-B exposure by almost 50% providing protection to children playing outdoors.
Trees on private property produce great monetary value. Studies have demonstrated that from 10 to 23 percent of the value of a residence is based on its tree stock.
More intangible, but so important nonetheless, is the value of trees in marking the seasons, calming a stark landscape, act as neighborhood landmarks and points of identity. They serve as symbolic links with our past when other connections have long since gone.
The Village does not have a tree ordinance as we have historically relied on the foresight and stewardship of our residents to value this intrinsic asset and despite a few, but glaring exceptions, residents have been great caretakers.
The Board of Trustees is undertaking a comprehensive review of all of our Village codes and regulations and this topic will clearly be revisited.
In the words of our Arbor Day founder, J. Sterling Morton, “Each generation only takes the earth as Trustees.”
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Mary C. Marvin is the mayor of the Village of Bronxville, New York. Share your thoughts by directing email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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