Role of trees highlighted for Arbor Day

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
Local residents gathered at a patriot elm tree recently planted at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School for an Arbor Day ceremony last week. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

The Greencastle Shade Tree Commission held an Arbor Day ceremony at one of two newly planted patriot elms at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School on Wednesday, April 24.

Past and president Shade Tree Commission members, Greencastle-Antrim School District representatives, government and community leaders and other local residents gathered at the tree along South Ridge Avenue.

The borough has a shortage of elms and the school is a good location for the species, according to Jeremy Layman, chair of the Shade Tree Commission, which planted 12 trees in Greencastle this spring, as well as 12 in the fall.

Activities like the Arbor Day ceremony and the plantings have earned Greencastle the title of a Tree City USA for the third year in a row, according to John Schwartzer, forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Bureau of Forestry in Michaux State Forest. He presented a plaque to be displayed at borough hall and noted that Greencastle's turnout is always the best among the Arbor Day ceremonies he attends.

Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. welcomed those attending to a wonderful community, said the Greencastle Shade Tree Commission has done a wonderful job for decades and noted other environmental events like Earth Day and the Great American Cleanup.

Both Ben Thomas and his brother, Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas, talked about the role of trees in helping to meet clean water mandates faced by local communities. Commissioners Dave Keller and Bob Ziobrowski also attended.

Keller, chairman of the board, cited a Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is now.

The trees planted at the middle school relay the message about the importance of trees and caring for the environment, said Principal Mark Herman.

The message for the students is "to begin ownership as the present and future stewards of the environment," Herman explained.

"This is our future," Layman underscored.

About Arbor Day 

In 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees and the holiday, called Arbor Day, was first observed with the planting of more than one million trees in the State of Nebraska, according to the mayor's proclamation.

Arbor Day is now observed throughout the nation and the world and "the benefits of trees are significant in our daily lives as they can reduce topsoil erosion, lower heating and cooling costs, cleanse the air, produce oxygen, provide wildlife habitat, fuel homes, and provide countless wood products ... trees in Greencastle enhance the economic vitality of business areas, increase property values and beautify our community," the proclamation says.

He called on residents to support "efforts to protect our trees and woodlands and to acquaint themselves with the work of the borough’s Shade Tree Commission volunteers as well as plant and care for trees to promote the well-being of this generation and those to come."