Two important days to commemorate the importance of our natural resources are this week and next. This Friday, April 22, is Earth Day, followed next week by Arbor Day on Friday, April 29. Why don’t we take these “tree-mendous” opportunities to get outdoors and celebrate?
Trees are such an important part of our everyday living, yet most of us never stop to think about how our lives would be affected if all trees were suddenly gone. The air we breathe is filtered by trees as they absorb carbon and give off oxygen.
Trees provide erosion protection for the soil by acting as an umbrella and allowing the rain to slowly make its way into the soil. Trees add shade to keep our Earth cool and provide food and shelter for wildlife.
They also serve as windbreaks, slowing the velocity of the winds and protecting our homes.
If not for trees, our landscape would be arid, hot and formidable. Trees add beauty to our surroundings and give us great pleasure as we hike through the woods.
They also provide great challenge while on the golf course – as recently attested by my golf partner, an unnamed county commissioner who trimmed a lot of trees on the Mill Creek golf course last night (and still beat me!).
Many of the products we use on a daily basis are made of wood — all the paper we use each day, the houses we live in, picture frames, baseball bats, furniture, guitars, and on and on … the list is endless! You might be thinking, “Well, much of those things can also be made of plastic!” and you would be correct. However, stop to think about what happens to all those products once their useful lives are over. The wood products can be repurposed, recycled or simply composted back into the soil to build the soil’s organic matter content. Unfortunately, plastic products never go away. Sure, they can be recycled; however, they never break down and are found littering our road and waterways, and clogging up our landfills. The plastics that end up in our lakes and oceans present a constant and overbearing threat to the health and lives of our aquatic marine life.
So how can we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day? The first, and most obvious, is to plant a tree. If you are not sure the correct method or how to select a site, go to www.arborday.org/trees/planting/ to find easy-to-follow instructions.
Other suggestions to celebrate these tree-mendous events might include:
• Take a child on a woodland hike – a great way to develop appreciation for the outdoors at an early age. Delaware County is blessed with an abundance of trails to hike. Go to www.preservationparks.com for maps of all their beautiful trails.
• If you are not currently recycling, begin a recycling commitment at home. Establish collection bins in your garage, back porch or pantry. Separate paper and cardboard from glass, plastics and metals. Information on home recycling can be found at www.delawarehealth.org/content.cfm?article=litter-and-recycling.
• Take your camera on a hike. Focusing on the beauty in the woods helps you appreciate the quiet and serenity and allows you to capture that moment to enjoy forever.
• Plant buffers along your stream, creek, ditch or lake. Buffers help filter pollutants from runoff and stabilize stream banks from erosion. Buffers also create shade to cool the water temperatures to improve habitat for aquatic life, and they reduce pesticide drift from entering the water.
If your idea of making a difference runs more to writing a check, consider making a donation to any number of various conservation organizations, such as the Arbor Day Foundation, Nature Conservancy or Preservation Parks of Delaware County, or others.
There are lots of ways to celebrate. Just get outside and breathe! And thank the trees for the air, cooling, shading, beauty, wood products and more that they provide each day. Contact the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District at www.delawareswcd.org for information on conservation. We help you help the land.
Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at email@example.com.