Tomorrow, April 25th 2017 Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland and I will have the honor of celebrating Arbor Day at the Mullen Elementary School in Manassas. I will be there on behalf of the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District, the district provides trees, program capsules and certificates of recognition to each participating school.
|Arbor Day 2016 in Haymarket|
Arbor Day was an early recognition of the need for sustainability in how we live on the earth. Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 when a million trees were planted in a single coordinated effort to counteract the deforestation that had occurred as trees were harvested to support the growth of the nation. Without trees and native plants to anchor and build the top soil, host bacteria and insects to decompose and repair the waste the land died. It had no natural life. This had resulted in floods and droughts, infertile and barren soil, and even the extinction of entire communities as the land seemed to be used up and blown away across the prairie.
In his speech to the school children who had planted and later cared for many trees, Mr. Morton described the great oneness of nature in all its parts. Then as now mankind is dependent on plants for life, for the wealth, for beauty and food, and for the recycling nutrients into the earth. Trees also protect our waterways.
Trees, shrubs and other plants that grow next to streams and rivers are also called Forest buffers and riparian forests. Forest buffers are a waterway’s last line of defense against pollution that washes off the land. They slow the flow of stormwater runoff trapping sediment and allowing polluted water to soak into the forest floor preventing soil from being washed into our river and streams. The trees’ roots absorb excess nutrients and store it in plant leaves and limbs before it can wash into our streams and rivers. The leaf litter, seeds and other plant materials that forest buffers drop into the water form the foundation of the freshwater food chain, and fallen branches, logs and woody debris can create habitat for insects, amphibians, crustaceans and small fish. The connecting forested buffers provide the migratory corridors for local wildlife.
|Arbor Day 2016 planting a red bud|
The trees have disappeared along many of our rivers and streams because of development, agriculture and erosion. We need to replant the trees. The benefits of forest buffers increase over time as trees grow and mature. And after their first few years in place, forest buffers need little maintenance, but continue to provide beauty, shade and all their ecological benefits.