Arbor Day is Friday, April 28, 2017 -- Every Year, Millions Of Trees Are Planted To Renew Idaho's Forests.

Celebrate Arbor Day

- Get your Arbor Day Seedling
- 2017 Arbor Day Student Photo Contest Winners Gallery
- Get Your 2017 Arbor Day T-Shirts  See the T-Shirt
- Order Arbor Day T-Shirts by Mail
- Governor Butch Otter - Arbor Day Video Message
- Governor Butch Otter - Arbor Day Audio Message

In Idaho, we celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April each year. Look to the Forest is our theme for Arbor Day this year. Trees are Idaho's great renewable resource that can be sustainable managed for the future. This Arbor Day, we hope you will look to Idaho's forests for all the things they contribute to our state and our way of life.


Arbor Day is Friday, April 28, 2017
CELEBRATE ARBOR DAY - and the miracle of Idaho's working forests!

The last Friday in April each year marks Arbor Day -- a special holiday to celebrate renewable, sustainable TREES. To celebrate Arbor Day this year, the Idaho Forest Products Commission is giving away 25,000 thousand one-year-old blue spruce seedlings at community events throughout the state and at Home Depot stores. Check if your community is hosting an event for Arbor Day. You can get your free seedling at any Home Depot store in Idaho, Spokane, Washington or Ontario, Oregon on Friday, April 28.

Questions about Arbor Day in Idaho?
Call 208/334-3292 or email

Arbor Day is a great time to
think about trees and
Idaho ís forests.

The Roots of Arbor Day

Arbor Day was the idea of J. Sterling Morton. In 1872, Morton helped start a new holiday in Nebraska dedicated to tree planting. It is estimated that more than one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day.

Morton's idea quickly spread. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states and in many other countries. Actual dates of the event differ for each area depending on planting times. Idaho celebrates Arbor Day the last Friday of April each year, the same date as National Arbor Day.

"Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future."
J. Sterling Morton

Ten Things You Can Do to Celebrate Arbor Day

10 Learn how Arbor Day began. 5 Learn about all the neat things we get from trees.
9 Find out about Idaho's state tree, the Western White Pine.. 4 Learn how to identify trees and impress your friends.
8 Buy a forest license plate and support forest education programs. 3 Identify all the things made from trees that touch your life in 24 hours.
7 Learn how paper is made and try it with your friends or family. 2 Share your tree planting experience on IFPC's Facebook page.
6 Proudly wear an official Idaho Arbor Day T-Shirt. 1 PLANT A TREE.

Good Things Happen
            When You Plant Trees

    Trees:   Nature's Brilliant Invention    

Trees are the earthís oldest living organisms. They improve air and water quality; reduce heating and cooling costs; provide a cool and beautiful place to live, work and play; are a renewable source of fuel, shelter, food and other products and provide benefits that directly affect the economic, environmental and social health of Idahoís people and the communities where they live.

One reason we harvest trees is that we all use forest products. Each year the average American uses the equivalent of a tree about 100í tall and 18Ē in diameter. Itís a good thing that trees are growing every day and nearly 100% of a tree can be used to make wood and other forest products

Has a Tree Touched Your Life Today?
There are over 5,000 products that come from trees. Some are obvious like the wood used to build our homes and furniture, or the paper in our books, bags, milk cartons, boxes and tissues. Other forest products aren't so easily recognized. Chemicals and other materials from trees are key ingredients in paint, varnish, adhesives, asphalt, artificial vanilla flavoring, cereals, chewing gum, hair spray, mouthwash, soaps and shampoos, tires and many, many other things -- even toothpaste.
Every American uses over a ton of wood each year! How many times will a tree touch your life today?

Help Plant a Forest

When you buy an Idaho forest license plate a portion of the fee will go to help reforestation and education projects in Idaho. Forest plates are available for your car, truck or motor home at motor vehicle offices throughout the state. Forest plates can be purchased any time of the year, and make a great Arbor Day statement.
More information

Look to the FUTURE - Look to the FOREST

Idahoís past and future is tied to the millions of acres of forests that cover the state. These forests are Idaho ís legacy. They contribute to our state and our way of life. We all benefit from the wood and paper products, clean water, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities Idaho ís forests provide. In the future, weíll look to our forests for even more: clean energy, new products, carbon storage, good jobs and a healthy environment. The challenge will be to keep our legacy healthy and productive through active forest management.

    Trees:   Nature's Brilliant Invention    

Trees are the earthís oldest living organisms. They improve air and water quality; reduce heating and cooling costs; provide a cool and beautiful place to live, work and play; are a renewable source of fuel, shelter, food and other products and provide benefits that directly affect the economic, environmental and social health of Idahoís people and the communities where they live.

One reason we harvest trees is that we all use forest products. Forest resources make up 47% of the total raw materials used in U. S. manufacturing. In fact, each year the average American uses the equivalent of a tree about 100í tall and 18" in diameter. Itís a good thing that nearly 100% of a tree can be used to make wood and other forest products.

Look to the FOREST

SUSTAINABLE. Forests can be used and managed to meet our environmental, economic and social needs today while leaving the forests in a condition that allows future generations to meet their own needs. All Idaho forestland owners must comply with state and federal environmental laws that protect forest resources. Many forest owners also enroll in a voluntary certification system which provides consumers with a third-party verification of sustainable management practices.

RENEWABLE. A renewable resource is a natural resource that can be re-grown, re-made or re-generated. When trees die or are harvested, others can be grown for the future. In Idaho, state law requires that a healthy, robust forest be quickly re-established following harvest.

DYNAMIC. Like people, trees are living things that are constantly moving through some part of their life cycle. Forests are dynamic and can never stay the same over time.

Working Forests are where trees
are continuously grown, harvested
and re-grown for the future.

JOBS: Working forests fuel Idahoís economy with wages, taxes and purchases from employees and businesses. In 2016, forest businesses in Idaho provided over 12,000 industry jobs and many additional jobs in service and related businesses. Forest jobs average $56,600 - 39% more than other industries. Each of the forest sector jobs supported around two more jobs in other sectors.

PRODUCTS: Idahoís working forests provide wood and paper products that are marketed and used throughout the world. Wood products store carbon, and harvested areas are reforested.

ENERGY: Wood building products are the best insulator against heat and cold that helps conserve energy and save on energy costs.
Biomass energy is a major product as most mills burn wood waste to generate heat and electricity for manufacturing. Idaho's forests grow one billion cubic feet of wood every year. Thinning hazardous fuels in forests could provide electricity and help meet Idaho ís growing energy needs. Woody biomass may be used in the future for bio-fuels and bio-products to replace fossil fuels.

ENVIRONMENT: Wood is the ultimate "green" product -- itís renewable, sustainable, recyclable, grown locally, versatile, biodegradable and has a smaller energy, water and carbon life cycle footprint than other products.

CARBON AND FORESTS: Healthy forests soak up carbon dioxide as they grow. Trees and wood products store carbon over long periods of time. Carbon dioxide is released as trees die and decay. Wildfires also release a tremendous amount of carbon into the atmosphere when they burn. Active forest management can help. Thinning and harvesting help keep forests healthy, growing and resistant to insects, disease and fire.

WATER: 63% of Idaho's water supply originates in forested watersheds. The Idaho Forest Practices Act protects water quality before, during and after harvest.

Working forests hold great promise for Idaho ís future -- clean energy, new products and jobs, carbon storage and a healthy environment for our children and their children.

Look to the Forest and Support
Idaho's Working Forests

Working forests make good sense.
They're renewable.
They're sustainable.
They provide good jobs,
          quality products,
          funding for public schools,
          clean energy,
          recreation opportunities,
          carbon storage,
          wildlife habitat,
          and a healthy environment.
Best of all, they're in our own back yard.
Keep working forests working.

All of these people work in Idaho’s forest industry. They plant trees. They grow trees. They harvest trees. They make wood and paper products from trees. They replant trees and do it all over again. To them every day is Arbor Day because their jobs, and the future of all forest businesses, depend on renewable trees. And because we replant after we harvest, the future for everyone is a little brighter.

Trees: Idaho ís growing resource

Idahoís forests are home to over 20 kinds of trees: "hardwoods" with broad leaves, "softwoods" with needles, "deciduous" trees that lose all their leaves each year, and "evergreen" trees that do not.

Species are used to make forest products in Idaho :
  • Lodgepole Pine
  • Western larch
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Grand fir
  • Subalpine fir
  • Western red cedar
  • Western hemlock
  • Douglas-fir
  • Englemann spruce
  • Mountain hemlock
  • Western white pine ( Idaho ís state tree)
Timber harvested from state "endowment" forests earns money for public schools and institutions! In FY2015, over $56 million was distributed throughout Idaho.

The Idaho Forest is Big

Of the 53 million acres of land in Idaho , "forest land" covers 21.3 million acres including 16.6 million acres of that are productive "timberlands", that are generally available for timber harvest. Forest ownership is divided between federal and state government, private landowners and forest product businesses. Each owner has specific objectives that determine how the forest is managed.

Hundreds of products are made from
trees harvested in Idaho every year:

Lumber and other structural building products such as dimensional lumber, solid beams, laminated beams, shingles, joists, laminated veneer lumber, finger-jointed lumber and engineered wood products.

Millwork used for doors, windows, cabinets, furniture, siding, flooring, moldings, fencing, shipping pallets.

Panel products such as plywood, particleboard and hardboard.

Posts, poles and timbers such as utility poles, house logs, fence posts, pilings, treated timbers, cross-arms and railroad ties.

Wood composite products such as siding, roofing, medium-density fiberboard and molding.

Pulp and paper products from wood fiber including packaging for food and products, newsprint, bathroom and facial tissue and paper toweling.


The idea for Arbor Day originally came from Nebraska, where a lack of trees led to the founding of Arbor Day in the 1800s. Among pioneers moving ,into the Nebraska Territory in 1854 was J. Sterling Morton from Detroit. He and his wife were lovers of nature, and the home they established in Nebraska was quickly planted with trees shrubs and flowers. Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska's first newspaper.

He spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees to an equally enthusiastic audience. His fellow pioneers missed their trees. But, more importantly, trees were needed as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun. Morton advocated tree planting by individuals in his articles and editorials, and encouraged civic organizations and groups to join in. His prominence in the area increased, and he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, which provided another opportunity to stress the value of trees.

Arbor Day's Beginnings

On January 4, 1872, Morton 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 estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the young state's Gov. Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, and the day itself was observed April 10, 1874. 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.

During the 1870's other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day. Today the most common date for the state observances is the last Friday in April, and several U.S. presidents have proclaimed a national Arbor Day on that date. But a number of state Arbor Days are at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south, to May in the far north.

A Proclamation
by President Theodore. Roosevelt, 1907:

To the School Children of the United States:
Arbor Day (which means simply "Tree Day") is now observed in every State in our Union and mainly in the schools. At various times from January to December, but chiefly in this month of. April, you give a day or part of a day to special exercises and perhaps to actual tree planting, in recognition of the importance of trees to us as a Nation, and of what they yield in adornment, comfort, and useful products to the communities in which you live.

It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the Nation's need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along without what we have, though With growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied, and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.

For the nation as for the man or woman, and the boy or girl, the road to success is the right use of what we have and the improvement of present opportunity. If you neglect to prepare yourselves not for the duties and responsibilities which will fall upon you later, if you do not learn the things which you will need to know when your school days are over, you will, suffer the consequences. So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal, whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.

A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless; forests which are so used that they can not renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it. were, a factory of wood, and at the same time a reservoir of water. When you help to preserve our forests or, to plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves, therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercises help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end.

Tips on Planting Trees

Before you dig, do your homework. Anyone can dig a hole and "plant" a tree, but you want the tree to survive. Ask yourself if this is the RIGHT TREE and is this the RIGHT PLACE?

There are hundreds-even thousands--of different kinds of trees that you can select to plant. Check with your local nursery, certified landscaper, garden club, or city forester for a list of the trees that will provide all the characteristics you desire (size, shape, colors, flowers, hardiness, growth rate, etc.) and grow best in the spot you select. Be sure to check the soil conditions, drainage, and how much water and sunlight the tree will need. Try to anticipate how large the tree might grow in the future and allow plenty of room for this expansion. This simple exercise will improve your long- term chance of success. It is also a wonderful way to integrate key science concepts and processes (change, cycles, predicting, collecting and analyzing data) into your Arbor Week activities. You can buy a tree from a local nursery (or mail order catalog), or ask them to make a donation. Beware: Many government agencies, businesses, and community groups give away tree seeds and small seedlings, but these quot;free" trees may not be the RIGHT TREE for your particular planting spot. Also, bigger trees, when planted property, usually have a better chance of surviving then small ones. HELPFUL HINT: Plant the biggest trees you can!

  • To find a good spot at school, check with your superintendent and landscape crew.
  • To find a good spot in town, check with your city forester or local park director.
  • Always check with your utility companies! (Overhead wires? Underground pipes & cables?)

If a good location can not be found, don't panic! Plant your trees in large pots or containers. Place the trees outdoors on the patio, in the courtyard, near a window, or along the sidewalk or driveway. (Don't forget to check on the trees regularly)

    Ten Things YOU and your students can do to Celebrate Trees!

1 Language Arts--Imagine the most beautiful tree in the world. Think about how it would look, where it would grow, what you would say to it. Share your ideas through stories and drawings. 6 Geography--Dissect a candy bar to identify tree products (nuts, cocoa, coconut, wrapper). Map their possible origins. Show how people depend on forests for food, shelter, and livelihood.
2 Science--Plant and study tree seeds, record germination rates, and grow seedlings. Give as Mother's Day gifts! 7 Science--Identify ten different trees by leaves, bark, shape, wood, etc. Sample tree products: maple syrup, apples, nuts. Determine which tree parts you're eating.
3 Art--Make wooden bird houses, feeders or jewelry. Create handmade paper greeting cards. Design creatures from cones, twigs and other tree parts. 8 Math--Explore how much wood is used to produce an issue of your favorite comic book or newspaper. Investigate rates of recycling and reforestation. Graph your data.
4 Geography--Map the vegetation around your school grounds. Conduct a tree planting project. 9 Social Studies/Language Arts--Interview people of many ages to learn how trees touch their lives. Write an article or letter to the editor of your local or school newspaper sharing your findings.
5 Art--Design a T-shirt with a forest theme. Invite a local reporter to photograph your class in the T-shirts. 10 Science--Keep a log of how wildlife use your neighborhood trees. Describe the animals (insects, too!) and how they use flowers, leaves, limbs, seeds and bark. Surprises await you!

Arbor Day Scavenger Hunt
Use your senses to find and check off each item.    Happy hunting!

  • A tree younger than you
  • An insect on a tree
  • A songbird in a tree
  • A bird's nest in a tree (don't disturb it!)
  • A twig with a "face"
  • An animal's home in a tree
  • A tree shaped like a triangle
  • A tree that's changed something
  • A stump telling a tree's history
  • Dried tree"blood" (sap)
  • Last year's leaf still on a tree
  • Three leaves with different shades of green
  • A partially eaten seed cone
  • A tree with a healed injury
  • A tree that could use your help
  • A tree three times as tall as you
  • A seedling just sprouting near an older tree
  • Five things you've used today that have come from trees

  • Why does an old man plant a tree?
    by Robert H Mealey

    My friends quite often ask of me,
    Why does an old man plant a tree?
    It grows so slow it will not pay,
    A profit for you anyway.
    Then why in storm and winter cold,
    Do you plant when you are so old?

    The answer seems hard to define,
    When muscles ache and they are mine.
    But I just cannot stand to see,
    A space where there should be a tree.
    So that in part as years unfold,
    Is why I plant when I'm so old.

    I know that animals, bugs and things,
    Love trees, and so do such as go on wings.
    So creatures wild that benefit,
    Is one more reason I can't quit
    From planting trees while I can hold,
    My planting hoe, though I'm so old.

    They say that those retired from labor,
    Should fish and play and talk to neighbor.
    They say also that folks in leisure,
    Should do the things which give them pleasure.
    And so the thought on which I'm sold,
    I'll plant some trees though I'm so old.

    As time goes on my trees will grow.
    So tall and clean and row on row.
    The furry folk will have a home,
    The birds can nest, and kids can roam.
    And all of this as I have told,
    I planted trees though I'm so old.

    And then there is my family,
    Young folks who will follow me.
    I'd like to leave them with some land,
    Stocked with trees and looking grand.
    These gifts I value more than gold,
    So I plant some trees though I'm so old.

    And taxes too for schools and roads,
    With jobs and lumber for abodes.
    I won't see these things, I won't be here.
    But to my mind it's very clear.
    The words of some who could be polled,
    Might thank a man who is so old.

    Man should be proud of what's his own,
    And how he's managed what he's grown.
    But management must be begun,
    By planting seedlings one by one.
    And so my pride I shall uphold,
    I'll plant some trees though I'm so old.

    So when my friends ask of me,
    Why does and old man plant a tree?
    Perhaps the lines above explain,
    How aching back and limbs in pain,
    May by commitment be controlled,
    To plant my trees though I'm so old.

    Idaho Forest Products Commission
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