Arbor Day

Forester James Kerkman shows how to plant a tree on April 27, 2018, with students and staff with the Child Development Center and others during the Fort McCoy observance of Arbor Day

Fort McCoy will hold its annual Arbor Day celebration 9 a.m. Friday, April 26 near the Main Gate in the cantonment area at the installation.

During the observance, Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Hui Chae Kim and other installation personnel will help children from the post Child Development Center plant more than 300 red pine tree seedlings, said forestry rechnician Charles Mentzel with the forestry office of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

The seedlings will be planted just west of the Main Gate, and the post will also be receiving its 30th Tree City USA award from the National Arbor Day Foundation during the celebration.

According to, the origin of Arbor Day dates back to the early 1870s in Nebraska City, Nebraska. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to the state with his wife, Caroline, in 1854. The couple purchased 160 acres in Nebraska City and planted a wide variety of trees and shrubs in what was primarily a flat stretch of desolate plain.

Morton later became editor of the state’s first newspaper, Nebraska City News, which became a platform for Morton to spread his knowledge of trees and to stress their ecological importance within Nebraska.

On Jan. 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day that would encourage all Nebraskans to plant trees in their community. An agriculture board agreed, and Arbor Day was born. The first Arbor Day was held April 10, 1872.

The tradition spread quickly. Within 20 years, Arbor Day had reached a large swath of the nation and was celebrated in every state except Delaware. It wasn’t until 1970, however, that Arbor Day became recognized nationwide.

Fort McCoy forester James Kerkman, also with the forestry office, said the Fort McCoy Arbor Day event is always coordinated by the installation forestry program. In addition to the 300-plus trees planned for planting during the observance, thousands more will be planted on post.

“Planting thousands of new trees is an effort that is repeated every year on post,” Kerkman said. “Fort McCoy has more than 46,000 acres of forested land managed by the forestry office, and it’s important to maintain those forested areas.”

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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