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Conservancy Receives "I Believe in Trees" Award

Grant Park Conservancy Receives
“I Believe in Trees” Award

“Each generation takes the Earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.”
J. Sterling Morton

Trees Atlanta recently honored the Grant Park Conservancy (www.gpconservancy.org) by presenting its annual “I Believe in Trees” Award during the 2004 Arbor Day Celebration held at Horizon Theater near Little Five Points. Chris Nelson, Chief Officer of Operations for the Piedmont Park Conservancy and member of the awards selection committee, presented the award to GPC Board members Carol Fisk and Rick Jones. The award is given each year to an organization or individual which proves diligent in protecting Atlanta’s trees. The awards ceremony capped the Arbor Day celebration around the city. Tree plantings and various projects highlighting the importance of trees in our urban environment were conducted in Grant Park, Piedmont Park, Freedom Park, Zoo Atlanta, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Center for Puppetry Arts, the Atlanta Children’s Museum, and more.

Since its formation, the GPC has placed a large emphasis on protecting large trees in Grant Park, planting new trees and providing health care to some of its most endangered trees. The organization, in partnership with many other groups like Trees Atlanta (www.treesatlanta.org) and the Georgia Forestry Commission/Urban Forestry Council has installed more than 2500 new trees in the park. It has also provided health care to large oaks, beech, and maples impacted by heavy foot traffic and construction. The advocacy and action of the GPC saved more than 450 caliper inches of older growth trees slated for removal during recent construction projects.

As part of this years’ celebration in Atlanta, Ms. Susan Reisch of the Georgia Forestry Commission (www.gcf.gov) read a proclamation from Mayor Shirley Franklin and then recertified the City of Atlanta as a Tree City USA.

Arbor Day is celebrated each February in Georgia, even though the official national Arbor Day is held in April. On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton first proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting properly the largest number of trees on ;that day. It was estimiated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday, was selected as the date for its permanent observance. The annual celebration has spread to every state in the US and many countries around the world. (this information comes from the website of the National Arbor Day Foundation – www.arborday.org).

While Arbor Day is a celebration, it is also a day to reflect on the current state of our trees. In the last 30 years, Atlanta has lost 70% of its tree canopy. The metro area continues to lose 50 acres of open land and tree cover each day as a result of sprawling development. As a result, the region has seen a degradation of air and water resources and serious challenge to the overall quality of life. Every homeowner can impact these problems by planting trees, caring for the trees they already have and getting neighbors involved in doing the same.

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