2013 Florida Arbor Day Celebration in Crestview, by Larry Williams & Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS Extension Agents

In celebration of Florida’s Arbor Day, free tree seedlings will be given away Friday, January 18th, 9am to noon at the new UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension office, 3098 Airport Road in Crestview.

This event is sponsored by the Florida Division of Forestry (FDF), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners. FDF and NRCS will provide over 1,000 bareroot native tree seedlings. Cherrybark Oak, Red maple, Western Mayhaw and Tulip Poplar tree seedlings will be available as long as supplies last.

University of Florida Extension Agents will conduct tree planting and pruning demonstrations. Okaloosa County Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions. The public is also invited to join us beginning at 10am when two large trees donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Dogwood Garden Club will be planted and dedicated.

Florida has more native trees than any other state in the United States, except Hawaii. Private landowners own 47% of Florida’s woodlands. A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four. However, the average tree in an urban/city area has a life expectancy of only 8 years.

Arbor Day was originally founded in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 as a tree-planting day. Every state recognizes Arbor Day but because of differences in climate, each state selects its own date to fit the best planting time for trees. Florida’s Arbor Day is the third Friday in January. National Arbor Day is celebrated the fourth Friday in April. Planting trees now allows young trees to become established by the time hot spring weather arrives.

USDA forester Glenn Roloff came up with 29 reasons for planting trees. Here area few that make sense for our area:

  • Shade from trees can reduce utility bills for air conditioning by 15-50 percent.
  • Shade trees cool hot streets, which can be 5-9 degrees hotter than areas without trees.
  • Trees and shrubs can significantly increase property values.
  • Trees provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Trees help reduce stress in the workplace and speed recovery of hospital patients.

Trees add beauty and grace to any community. They make life more enjoyable, peaceful, relaxing and offer a rich inheritance for future generations.

For more about Florida’s Arbor Day, visit http://www.arborday.org/states/?state+FL.

For more about the Arbor Day Celebration in Crestview, contact the Okaloosa County Extension Office at 689-5850 or the Florida Division of Forestry Office in Okaloosa County at 689-7838.

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