Our Opinion: Celebrate Arbor Month, trees

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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April 26 was Arbor Day and like every year, it is an opportunity to celebrate trees and all of the benefits they give us. However, now May is Minnesota’s Arbor Month, an entire 31 days of appreciating trees and what they can do for our world, our community and what they can do for our spirits.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing and a cool place to rest beneath their branches on a warm summer day, trees fulfill a vital function by pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, contributing to a healthier environment and are vital to the sustained health of the planet.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation: “Trees play a critical role in creating healthier, safer, and more connected communities. They clean our air, filter our water, and even slow storm surge and flooding in our cities. Trees also provide shade and cool our cities by up to 10 degrees, which can help prevent heat-related deaths in urban areas.”

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And they also contribute to the biodiversity that surrounds us and helps make up this wonderful world we live in.

But we would wager that largely, a great many of you go about your day not thinking about things like this. Us included. Sure, you may appreciate a tree or remember the branches you scaled in your youth, but pay specific attention to the role trees play?

The fact of the matter is we should be paying more attention because of those aforementioned benefits and the direct effect they have on ourselves and the lives we lead. This has become directly relevant in the face of the emerald ash borer infestation that will result in a large number of Austin’s ash tree population needing to be cut down.

We support and are thrilled by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department’s efforts to save as many ash trees as they can, but the reality is that more than enough will more than likely have to come down leaving gaps in our beautiful, tree accented community.

That’s why, this month, we urge you to consider planting a tree. Not only can it benefit the community, but it plays a role in the betterment of our lives. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be a chore.

It can be a great way for a family to spend time with each other, or start a tradition that can be handed down through the generations. It can be something service groups can do throughout their community to add more to that life we walk beneath every day.

It might be easy to walk downtown and not think too much about the trees you walk beside, but it’s worth giving the idea some time. Austin has always been about fostering its community and environment and trees have been a part of that.

We hope you take some time this month to appreciate this important part of nature and perhaps consider adding to it.