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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Montana ready to celebrate Arbor Day


CONTACT:  Jamie Kirby
Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator
Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation
(406) 542-4288

 April 23, 2015

HELENA, Mont. –As many as 60 cities and towns across Big Sky Country will celebrate Arbor Day this Friday, April 24, 2015, with the official state ceremony scheduled for May 15, 2015, in Livingston, Mont.

Governor Steve Bullock will join the state celebration at noon in Livingston’s Miles Park, on the banks of the Yellowstone River. The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature exhibits and activities for all ages, including tree and plant identification and fly-tying. Lunch will be provided, including ice cream bars from the famous Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream. Smokey Bear and Sprig the Squirrel will be on hand to greet participants, who can also receive a free tree seedling for planting at home.

“Everyone is welcome to attend and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Emily Post, event coordinator for the City of Livingston. “Stop by to get a free seedling, see the Governor and learn about the great work Livingston is doing to enhance and protect its urban forest.”

Jamie Kirby, Urban Forestry Program Coordinator for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), said Livingston was selected as host city this year after being named Tree City of the Year under an initiative launched by Governor Bullock and the DNRC in 2013.

“Livingston maintains about 4,000 trees on public property,” Kirby said, “and they have brought the importance of urban trees to the forefront with a ‘Tree Tagging’ campaign. All around town you’ll see trees with information explaining the benefits of that individual tree and facts about potential threats such as the Emerald Ash Borer.”

Kirby said Livingston will also host a major regional tree conference in October of 2015. The Northern Rockies Tree School will offer the latest in tree care, species and site selection, and other tutorials, with all the information focused on growing trees in the challenging conditions of the Northern Rockies.

The cities of Butte, Kalispell and Sidney were also finalists for the Tree City of The Year award. Kirby said nearly half of Montana’s population – more than 430,000 people – lives in a Tree City USA community. “Tree City towns cover the state, from Glendive, Wolf Point and Broadus in the east to Hamilton, Polson and Libby in the west,” she said.

According to the National Association of State Foresters, the many dividends of a healthy urban forest include:

n  Tourists and visitors spend more time in retail areas with trees

n  Trees reduce crime, noise, litter and graffiti

n  Trees reduce residential heating and cooling costs

n  Studies have shown that trees create stronger ties among neighbors and reduce attention-deficit disorders in children

n  Trees absorb large amounts of harmful air pollutants, including greenhouse gases

The Montana DNRC’s Urban and Community Forestry Program helps cities and towns meet the challenges of establishing and maintaining their “green economies.” DNRC also administers the Tree City USA program, which provides technical assistance and consulting for communities that wish to create an urban forestry program.

The idea for Arbor Day is credited to Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska pioneer who promoted the need for planting trees on the Great Plains. The first Arbor Day celebration took place in 1872 and it’s been estimated that more than one million trees were planted in a single day. Today, Arbor Day is observed in every US state and in many countries around the world.