News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

State forester declares April Oregon Arbor Month

Oregon’s new State Forester Calvin Mukumoto thinks a single day or single week is not long enough time to recognize all the great things trees do for people. So he’s asking Oregonians to join him in celebrating all of April as Oregon Arbor Month. 

For the second year in a row Gov. Kate Brown has officially extended by proclamation the period Oregon devotes to recognizing its billions of trees from the first week in April to the entire month. 

“Optimal tree-planting weather in eastern Oregon and at higher elevations may not be until the latter half of April, whereas tree planting generally concludes west of the Cascades by mid-April,” said Mukumoto. “Now communities on both sides of the state can schedule their tree events under the same umbrella of Arbor Month.”

Mukumoto points out that last summer’s record-shattering heat wave in Oregon reminded everyone of the vital role the state’s urban and rural forests play in buffering people from climate change impacts. 

“Trees cool their surroundings through shade and by releasing water vapor into the air, potentially saving lives and reducing energy use during extreme heat events,” said Mukumoto. 

More Oregonians than ever during the pandemic have come to appreciate the trees near where they live. Many people worked from home, homeschooled their children or limited their travel to local parks and nearby forests. 

“We’ve relied more heavily than ever on these tree-filled spaces as places of respite, joy, spiritual renewal, exercise, and social interaction,” said Mukumoto. “In addition to their importance to our state’s economy, trees are known to have a positive impact on mental health and community resilience.”

Trees are not evenly distributed in cities and towns, with higher-income areas tending to have more trees and parkland. Historic and ongoing inequities have kept lower-income people, people of color, and other vulnerable or marginalized groups from sharing equally in the many benefits provided by trees. 

“By planting and caring for trees in underserved areas, we can help address this injustice and spread the benefits communitywide,” said Mukumoto.

In addition to joining tree plantings, Mukumoto suggests people find other fun, tree-related activities to enjoy during April. 

“Whether by yourself or with family and friends, read a book about trees. My favorite is one I use to identify Pacific Northwest trees. You can visit a park or arboretum and observe closely the leaves, flowers and bark, the aromas and textures. Just being around trees and slowing down to appreciate them can be good for you,” he said.

“It can also be fun to take a camera or sketchpad when viewing trees and photograph or draw what you see. Or write a poem about a special tree or grove of trees. If you do any of those things, please drop me a note or photo at our ODF Instagram or Facebook page,” said Mukumoto. “I’d love to see what Oregonians do to celebrate trees this month.”

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