Free seedlings and more, the Treasure Valley celebrates Arbor Day

Arbor Day events will take place across the Treasure Valley and across the U.S. on Friday.
Arbor Day events will take place across the Treasure Valley and across the U.S. on Friday. AP

Americans come together on the last Friday of every April to celebrate Arbor Day. The day is a time to consider the important role of trees in communities and in wild areas.

Here’s a rundown of special events and activities planned for that day in the Treasure Valley and beyond:

▪  Free seedling giveaways – If you want to plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day, the Idaho Forest Products Commission (IFPC) will give away more than 25,000 free blue spruce seedlings on Friday at any Home Depot in Idaho, Ontario, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.; the Boise Co-Op; Whole Foods stores in Boise, Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village in Meridian; Paul Bunyan restaurants in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Rathdrum and Post Falls; Numerica Credit Union in Hayden, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene; north Idaho community libraries including Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Spirit Lake, Rathdrum, Post Falls, Pinehurst, Harrison and Athol; KROC Center in Coeur d’Alene; and also on Saturday at the Arbor Day Festival at the Finch Arboretum in Spokane. Check with your community forester for Arbor Day events. Over the years, IFPC has distributed over 494,000 seedlings during Arbor Day events.

▪  Arbor Day Photo Contest – Students from throughout Idaho submitted photos of trees that represented what they see when they “Look to the Forest.” A panel of judges selected winning photographs for three age categories and honorable mentions from over 240 entries. Winners of three age categories receive $50 from the Idaho Forest Products Commission and a tree will be planted at their school compliments of the Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association. A grand prize winner will receive an additional $100 and have a tree planted in their honor at Capitol Park during the State Arbor Day celebration. A gallery of the winning and honorable mention photos can be seen online at idahoforests.org.

▪  Capitol Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting – On Friday, State Controller Brandon Woolf leads the annual State Arbor Day celebration and tree planting. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in the controller’s office, 700 W. State, Boise, and will include award presentations to the student winners of the 2016 Arbor Day Photo Contest and recognition of southwest Idaho’s Tree City USA communities. Students and others will end the ceremony by planting the annual Arbor Day tree – a Kwanzan cherry – in Capitol Park just south of the Statehouse.

▪  Touchmark Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting – At 1:30 p.m. Friday, a special Arbor Day event will be held at Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village in Meridian. State Controller Brandon Woolf will present the State of Idaho’s Arbor Day Proclamation. The cornerstone of the event will be the planting of a sapling derived from the Oklahoma City Survivor Tree and remarks by Oklahoma Urban Forestry Coordinator Mark Bays, who nursed the American Elm back to health after the 1995 terrorist attack. A reception will follow the tree planting with free seedlings provided by the Idaho Forest Product Commission.

Each year millions of trees are hand planted on Idaho’s 21 million acres of private, state and federal forestland. This is in addition to the millions of trees that nature sows. For every tree harvested, seven are growing for the The first Arbor Day was held in 1872 in Nebraska. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states and many other countries. For more information about Arbor Day and Idaho’s forests, visit the IFPC website.