April 28, 2006


10 great places in the USA to look up to a tree

"Only God can make a tree," poet Joyce Kilmer wrote. But it's people who plant them — and save them. Today is National Arbor Day. For inspiration, visit some of the USA's national champion trees or nominate the one in your backyard for the National Register of Big Trees. (The new 2005-06 list is online at americanforests.org and will be in the next issue of American Forests magazine, due next week.) Deborah Gangloff, executive director of American Forests, describes some of the champions to Anne Goodfriend for USA TODAY.

-National Arbor Day Foundation
-Arbor Day (Wikipedia
-Experiment takes root to keep American chestnut from perishing (JON RUTTER, 4/12/06, Lancaster Sunday News)

Forty years ago, from a remote bluff haunted by the stumps of a once great forest, Derek Pritts spirited a piece of the Holy Grail.

It was a single, toothed, canoe-shaped leaf, still green. "I was the only one in my class to find an American chestnut," Pritts recalled of that long-ago sapling. "I was very excited."

Pritts was a boy then, intent on a sixth-grade science project in rural Fayette County.

He went on to earn a Penn State degree in agriculture and become a waterways conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission here.

But he never forgot his childhood vow to "set things right" for the trees decimated by blight in the early 1900s.

Two weeks ago at Speedwell Forge Lake, he and other chestnut lovers embarked on a groundbreaking project to do just that.

They are establishing two groves of trees with seedlings and seed nuts gleaned through The American Chestnut Foundation and the American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation in 12 states.

Birches (Robert Frost, 1920)
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2006 7:38 AM

Monday, I planted 32 red cedar, Tuesday, 31. Yesterday, I planted 100 white cedar.

Posted by: AllenS at April 28, 2006 8:20 AM

No why would you want to add to global warming?

Save the planet, cut down a tree.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 28, 2006 10:42 AM

I used to live in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. They have lots of trees. My wife and I moved to Omaha, Nebraska about 9 years ago. Nebraska City is about 50 miles south of here and it is the home of Arbor Day. It is somewhat ironic that a state in the Great Plains created Arbor Day; on the other hand, maybe it isn't. Anyway, in north central Nebraska there is a National Forest (Bessey Ranger District and Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest) and it is the largest man-made forest in the world. I haven't been there yet but I am told most of the trees are set in straight lines. I really like Nebraska but it does not strike me as a tree state.

Posted by: pchuck at April 28, 2006 10:50 AM

Let's not forget that the treelessness of the Great Plains was maintained by those Masters of Ecological Awareness, the American Indian, who regularly burned the place to keep those pesky trees from interfering with their Gaian primitive lifestyle. So a forest in Nebraska is "man-made" only if you fail to consider the previous human manipulation of that environment.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 28, 2006 11:13 AM


The red cedar are for privacy, so I can pee outside without the neighbors oooing and awwwing. I must have over a thousand of them planted along my fence lines. The white cedar are habitat for critters that I can shoot and eat. This fall, I'll cut other trees down to heat with. I burn all of my trash outside, so I should be helping ruin something. I hope and pray for global warming.

Posted by: AllenS at April 28, 2006 1:07 PM

Well, I freed a tree frum Kudzu a couple of weeks ago, a nice Maple. Does that count?

Posted by: Twn at April 28, 2006 3:43 PM

"Birches" is one gorgeous bit of poetry.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 28, 2006 7:40 PM

Not really ironic that Arbor day started in Nebraska. The pioneers (one J. Sterling Morton in particular) missed having trees around them and started a day to promote tree planting.

Here in Utah the forest starts a thousand feet or more above the valley floors where the Mormons settled and they started planting trees right away. I have a photocopy of the first city council meeting minutes from the small city of Manti in central Utah. in that first meeting they passed an ordinance requiring residents to plant trees "calculated to beautify and adorn" on their lots clear back in 1851, ten years before Arbor Day began (incedentally that was the second ordinance passed, the first set out penalties for those caught swearing in the city). Many travellers passing through on the way to California commented that planting trees must be another wierd tenet of Mormonism.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at April 28, 2006 10:29 PM

Planting trees should be promoted in a big way. It pays in the long run. Trees are the only things that can save the world now and sustain life. I came across this site. Just wanted to share it. Its on an organization that is dedicated to planting trees along Houston's streets and freeways. I got the link from this site. Its a sure Check for all you people http://www.dickweekley.com/affiliations.html

Posted by: Shawn Henry at July 7, 2006 2:20 AM