tree branch

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 News

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

Arbor Day Editorial

This Arbor Day I Vote For Trees

An Arbor Day Editorial by Ben Ysura, Idaho Secretary of State.

I’ve spent over 40 years working for the great state Idaho. After all this time, I continue to be amazed by our tremendous natural resources and all they do for the state.

As Secretary of State, I oversee the election process, facilitate business activity and provide timely public record information. I also serve as a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners, better known as the “Land Board”.

The Land Board provides direction in managing over 2.4 million acres of state endowment trust lands, including nearly a million acres of forests. These forests were granted to Idaho at statehood and have been working for Idaho’s public schools and institutions ever since. Revenue from trees harvested on these forests has long provided the majority of money invested into the endowment funds each year from the management of state lands. In 2014, the payout from the endowment topped $48.8 million in distributions to public schools and universities, and state charitable institutions such as the Veterans Hospital and the penitentiary.

These endowment distributions aid the state in three ways. First, the $48.8 million dollars paid out in 2014 are dollars that will not need to be raised through taxes. These monies are actually created with water, soil and sunshine by growing trees. Second, because trees are a renewable resource, when a tree is harvested today another can be replanted for the future. Forests can be sustainably managed for our needs down the road. Finally, growing, harvesting and making trees into wood and paper products keeps our neighbors and local businesses working and contributing to our state’s economy.

Our state has been growing, harvesting and replanting trees for over a century. It’s a formula that works. In the past five years, we’ve hand planted 1.4 million trees every year on state endowment forests in addition to what nature seeds. That’s one tree for every person in the state every year. When you add this to the number of seedlings planted and seeded on private and federal forestlands, it’s a lot of trees!

From clean water to wildlife habitat and recreation to carbon storage, we’ve all heard about the great benefits of trees. The last Friday in April is Arbor Day, a celebration of trees and working forests. I encourage you to look to the forest this Arbor Day and consider the many ways trees contribute to our state and our lives.