LISLE,IL - Today Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and the Morton Arboretum commemorated Arbor Day in Illinois by encouraging tree planting and care, emphasizing the benefits of trees in our communities and planting the official 2004 Morton Arboretum Day Tree.
“Arbor Day is a tree-mendous opportunity to build awareness of the benefits of trees, help protect and enhance Illinois’ environment, and advance rural land conservation and forest stewardship through the planting and care of trees,” said Quinn.
The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. More than one million trees were planted. In 1970, the last Friday in every April was proclaimed National Arbor Day.
“Trees impact our society and environment in countless ways,” said Quinn. “Trees give us fresher air and cleaner waters, beautify our neighborhoods, provide wind and heat protection and contribute to economic development.”
Quinn kicked-off the tree planting ceremony with Arboretum President and CEO Gerard T. Donnelly, Ph.D., various prestigious environmental agencies, scout troops of Arbor View School in Glen Ellyn, students of Naperville’s Ranch View School and an impersonator of Johnny Appleseed, man who spent a half century of his life celebrating trees and creating apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“Johnny Appleseed’s dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere and no one was hungry,” said Quinn. “He walked barefoot around the country, and everywhere he went he sowed seeds, took action and made change one step at a time.”
Vachel Lindsay – the poet of “In Praise of Johnny Appleseed”-- was born in Springfield in 1879. Lindsay, like Abraham Lincoln, was fascinated by the common people, and much of his poetry reflected that fascination.
The Morton Arboretum was formally established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, a son of Julius Sterling Morton, the originator of Arbor Day. The arboretum mission is to collect and study trees, shrubs and other plants, and to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier environment.
“Planting trees leads to less runoff and erosion, preventing sediments and chemicals from entering our streams and rivers, and therefore improving the quality of Illinois’ waters,” said Quinn. “Without trees, Illinois’ valuable natural habitats as well as the wildlife that depends on them could not exist.”
Quinn noted that at least 42 Illinois towns are named for tree species. “From Apple River to Willow Springs, Illinois residents are reminded of trees.” To see a list of towns named for trees, visit www.PatQuinn.org
As Lieutenant Governor and a long-time advocate of green solutions, Quinn is chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council; a group of citizens and not-for-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, sportsmen and river enthusiasts. The Council coordinates funding for river restoration in the sprawling Illinois River watershed, which includes not only the Illinois River, but also its tributaries: Calumet, Chicago, DesPlaines, DuPage, Fox, Kankakee, La Moine, Mackinaw, Sangamon, Spoon and Vermilion Rivers.