LISLE, Ill. (March 21, 2014) – Wander through Chicago’s downtown streets from April 21-May 2 this year and you might notice bright “larger-than-life” tags adorning the trees. On April 21, volunteers from The Morton Arboretum, the City of Chicago and The Davey Tree Expert Company will decorate nearly 2,000 city trees with these tags to raise awareness about the importance of trees, leading up to Arbor Day on April 25. Arbor Day is a special day set aside for planting trees.
Trees are much more than a provider of shade and beauty; they turn sunlight into food for wildlife and people, they increase home values and help clean the air we breathe. But it’s easy to pass trees without giving them a second thought. With six different messages about the benefits of trees, the Arbor Day tree tags are a way to bring attention to all that trees offer. Key benefits highlighted this year include:
- Trees clean the air we breathe.
- Trees reduce energy bills.
- Trees increase our homes’ value.
- Trees make our cities safer.
- Trees make us healthier.
- Trees surround us in beauty.
“On Arbor Day and every day, we embrace the many values trees provide to us and our world,” said Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “To show our love for trees and to celebrate Arbor Day, we will plant trees, care for them, and even hug them in appreciation,” he added. “Chicago is a tree-focused city and as Chicago’s tree-focused botanical garden, The Morton Arboretum works with the city in support of a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.”
“Chicago’s trees are crucial to the health of our city,” said Rebekah Scheinfeld, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation. “With a shared goal of a greener city and world, we are honored to partner with The Morton Arboretum for the third year in a row on its Tree Tagging Project.”
Why Trees Matter
In an urban forest, defined as trees that live alongside people in larger cities and suburbs, trees can’t survive without human intervention. Meanwhile, people – quite literally – could not live without trees. So, arborists, horticulturists, researchers and teams of volunteers work diligently to maintain and conserve the trees that make our cities so beautiful, dealing daily with issues like the emerald ash borer and fungal diseases that threaten to decimate much of the area’s treescape. The Morton Arboretum estimates that one in five Chicago street trees is an ash tree – most of which will eventually need to be removed, which will not only change the look of parkways, yards and communities, but will mean that thousands of trees will need to be replaced.
The Morton Arboretum’s Role in Tree Conservation
As the forests go, so go the trees. Experts are delivering new warnings that deforestation, plant diseases, pests, and climate change are combining to dramatically reduce the amount and health of the world’s forests and trees. Ten percent of all tree species are now threatened with extinction, officials say. The Morton Arboretum has been a leader in conservation for decades. Its efforts include international partnerships to conserve endangered species of trees in Arboretum and public garden collections; restoring more than half its 1,700 acres as natural woodlands, prairies and wetlands; and outreach programs that help municipalities, tree professionals, and homeowners care for the urban forest.
Arbor Day and The Morton Arboretum
As part of its mission to plant and save trees, The Morton Arboretum has a unique connection to Arbor Day because of the Morton family’s role in creating both the holiday and the Arboretum. To encourage the planting of trees, the first Arbor Day was organized in tree-barren Nebraska in 1872 by Secretary of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton, father of Joy Morton who later founded the Arboretum. The Morton family motto was “Plant Trees,” which inspired Joy Morton, president of the Morton Salt Company in Chicago, to carry on that legacy at his estate in west suburban Lisle, where he established an arboretum, or outdoor museum of trees, in 1922. Today, all 50 states and many countries around the world recognize Arbor Day in honor of trees and their value to us. Arbor Day in Illinois is the last Friday in April, but other states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times.
The Morton Arboretum thanks The Davey Tree Expert Company for its support of the 2014 Arbor Day Tree Tagging initiative. The Davey Tree Expert Company, with U.S. and Canadian operations in more than 47 states and five provinces, provides a variety of tree care, grounds maintenance, and consulting services for the residential, commercial, utility, and government markets.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research, and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Designed with natural landscapes, the grounds include the award-winning, four-acre interactive Children’s Garden, the one-acre Maze Garden, plus specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails, and nine miles of roads. Visitor experiences include the open-air tram ride, guided walks, Arbor Day celebrations, concerts, art shows, Fall Color Festival, and special exhibits. The Arboretum welcomes 884,600 visitors annually and serves 38,600 member households. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at mortonarb.org.