Celebrate Arbor Day: Plant a tree | SteamboatToday.com

Celebrate Arbor Day: Plant a tree

— To quote Martha Stewart, “planting trees is a good thing.”

Today is National Arbor Day, and there’s no better time to dig a hole and plant a tree.

Vance Fulton, a soil conservation technician with the National Resources Conservation Service, said there are numerous programs available to Routt County residents that encourage economical tree and shrub planting this time of year.

“We have a lot of cost-share programs for people through the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Fulton said. “The programs are designed to increase the amount of trees in wildlife areas.”

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) fosters planting trees in areas along riverbanks and on land with sparse tree and shrub vegetation.

“We have a program for stream-bank planting that is pretty popular right now,” Fulton said. “The goal is to increase the number of trees and shrubs along streams and rivers because that vegetation has been slowly depleted over the years. Planting trees in these areas stabilizes the areas and provides cover for wildlife.”

In addition to the river and stream programs, landowners can work with the Conservation Service to plant trees for windbreaks and wildlife preserves.

“We have a cost-sharing program called the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program,” Fulton said. “Landowners can share in the cost of trees and shrubs, and the maximum cost share is 75 percent. That means landowners can pay as little as 25 percent for the trees.”

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is not being funded this year but was funded last year, and Fulton said it would most likely be funded in 2001.

“In this area of Colorado, we focus on planting trees because they provide a lot of food and cover for animals,” Fulton said. “We’re trying to get a lot of woody vegetation back into some areas of Routt County that has been slowly fading over the years.”

Arbor Day (Tree Day) was established in Nebraska in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton. Morton was the first newspaper editor in the state and was an active environmentalist. Across the barren land he called home, Morton recognized the desperate need for trees to maintain soil levels, act as windblocks, and provide shade, building materials and fuel.

Through his newspaper articles and editorials, Morton encouraged planting trees, and he quickly spread environmental information to his readers.

Proclaimed a national holiday in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Arbor Day is now celebrated in most states the last Friday in April, although some southern states observe it in January and February — months that better coincide with their planting season.

For Routt County residents interested in the planting programs, now is the time to register for next April’s planting season. Call the NRCS at 879-3225 for more information.

The National Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to tree planting and environmental stewardship.

— To reach Bryna Larsen call 871-4205, or e-mail blarsen@amigo.net

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