Arbor Day – A Celebration of the Future

When so many of our celebratory dates focus on things of the past, National Arbor Day focuses on the future – of trees. It is a day we set aside to raise awareness of trees and the important role they play in our environment. It is celebrated around the world, though here in America, we celebrate it on April 30. This time of year is the best time in North America to plant a tree.

A Bit of Arbor Day History

When pioneers first began moving west and settling into the Nebraska territory, the lack of trees was deeply felt. They needed more trees as windbreaks to keep fertile soil in place, for fuel, for building materials, and for shade from the hot Midwestern summer sun. In the late 1800s, Nebraska newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton was a staunch tree-planting advocate. Once he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he used his position to further his tree-planting message.

In January of 1872, Morton proposed a tree planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day.” The date was set for April 10th of that year, with the public interest generated by prizes awarded for the most trees planted on that day. It is estimated that over 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska during that event. Then in 1874, Nebraska Governor Robert W. Furnas officially proclaimed the observance of Arbor Day and in 1885, the day was made a legal holiday in the state on April 22. By 1920, more than 45 states had officially adopted the holiday.

Since then, Arbor Day quickly grew to be an international remembrance of those stately living things that give us beauty and cultivate the air we breathe. People the world over participate in tree planting events and other celebrations that center around our life-giving trees and the role they play in our environment.

Why is Arbor Day Important?

Even though it has been celebrated for well over 100 years, the relevance of Arbor Day has never been so strong as it is today. One only has to look at the mass deforestation and long-term damage to many of the world’s forests to realize that the issues are as important now as they have ever been. Our trees cannot be taken for granted – indeed, they not only help provide clean air, they shelter us, provide outdoor recreation, and beautify our landscape in ways nothing else ever could.

A Nod To Arbor Day

As you may know, each national park poster, artist proof and postcard is printed on a paper stock called "Conservation". It's a 100% recycled paper and it's produced here in the USA! It's Rainforest Alliance Certified, too! In addition, I use soy-based inks (most printing inks are petroleum based). And, I print everything here in Colorado by one of the greenest printers in the country, D&K Printing.


Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, he's creating iconic WPA-style posters for each of our National Parks.

Click here to learn more about Rob...


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