Story by Scott Sturkol on 04/05/2019Fort McCoy will hold its annual Arbor Day celebration 9 a.m. April 26 near the Main Gate in the cantonment area at the installation.
During the observance, Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Hui Chae Kim and other installation personnel will help children from the post Child Development Center plant more than 300 red pine tree seedlings, said Forestry Technician Charles Mentzel with the Forestry Office of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
"We'll be planting the seedlings just west of the Main Gate," Mentzel said. "The post will also be receiving its 30th Tree City USA award from the National Arbor Day Foundation (NADF) during the celebration."
According to history.com, the origins of Arbor Day dates back to the early 1870s in Nebraska City, Neb. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to the state with his wife, Caroline, in 1854. The couple purchased 160 acres in Nebraska City and planted a wide variety of trees and shrubs in what was a primarily a flat stretch of desolate plain.
Morton later became editor of the state's first newspaper, Nebraska City News, which became a platform for Morton to spread his knowledge of trees and to stress their ecological importance within Nebraska.
On Jan. 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day that would encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. An agriculture board agreed, and Arbor Day was born. The first Arbor Day was held April 10, 1872.
The tradition spread quickly. Within 20 years, Arbor Day had reached a large swath of the nation and was celebrated in every state except for Delaware. It wasn't until 1970, however, that Arbor Day became recognized nationwide, thanks to President Richard Nixon. This move was in line with other environmentally friendly actions taken by Nixon in the 1970s, including the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and more.
Fort McCoy Forester James Kerkman, also with the Forestry Office, said the Fort McCoy Arbor Day event is always coordinated by the installation Forestry program. In addition to the 300-plus trees planned for planting during the observance, thousands more will be planted on post.
"Planting thousands of new trees is an effort that is repeated every year on post," Kerkman said. "Fort McCoy has more than 46,000 acres of forested land managed by the Forestry Office, and it's important to maintain those forested areas."
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy.
(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)