Plant a Tree

April 27, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."
Kahlil Gebran

Tomorrow is Arbor Day - one of Nebraska's great contributions to the country, and the world. This year we celebrate its sesquicentennial.

J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska City-based newspaper editor who later became Secretary of the Nebraska Territory, was an enthusiastic lover of trees. He pitched the idea of a tree-planting holiday, and the citizenry got behind it in a big way. On that inaugural Arbor Day 150 years ago an estimated one million trees were planted across Nebraska. Two years later the governor (Robert Furnas) made it an official annual observance, and it was designated a legal holiday in the Cornhusker State in 1885.

Today all 50 states observe Arbor Day, as do many countries across the globe. The Arbor Day Foundation distributes many millions of trees to its members each year.

I'm with Mr. Morton; I admire trees. How can you not?

Wander through the forest among beautiful, towering specimens. Listen to leaves dancing in the wind. Find respite in their shade. Marvel at the magical extravaganza staged by deciduous varieties each autumn. Stuff of Dreams Autumn New HampshireThe Stuff of DreamsBretton Woods, New Hampshire

"Come to the woods, for here is rest." 
John Muir

New Hampshire, my adoptive state, is second only to Maine as the most forested in the country. More than 80% of it is covered with trees. From the seacoast to the Great North Woods, it's a beautiful place. That said, I've got a soft spot for the White Mountains. There you can really appreciate the dense tree cover - and if you're lucky enough to experience the riot of color in early October it's a sight you will never forget.

Looking across that landscape now it may be hard to fathom, but the Whites had been logged to the point of deforestation by the turn of the last century. Look for photos from that period and you'll see the devastating result of years of clear-cutting.

Granite State native John Weeks was the driving force responsible for turning that around. The Weeks Act, passed in 1911 and signed into law by President Taft, made possible the creation of the White Mountain National Forest (among others) and is credited for returning forests to the Eastern United States.

Sometimes something useful actually does come out of Washington, D.C.

Next time you visit Pisgah National Forest, or Allegheny, Green Mountain, George Washington, Monongahela - or my beloved White Mountains - give a nod to the man from Lancaster, New Hampshire: John Wingate Weeks.

Quite a legacy.


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